This November voters in California will likely be deciding whether or not to raise taxes. Yesterday, California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and fellow supporters turned in what should be more than enough signatures to get their tax measure qualified. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Gov. Jerry Brown and backers of his tax initiative submitted petitions Thursday to county elections officials they said contain nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, but the governor acknowledged the measure isn’t a cure-all and warned he will unveil “severe” new cuts to state spending next week.
Brown says the money would go to K-12 schools, higher education and courts – but if voters reject the taxes, he and Democrats would make deep midyear cuts to those same programs.
If approved, the measure would increase taxes on the wealthy and slightly raise the state’s sales tax. The measure is expected to bring in several billion a year.
The Democrats were forced to go this route because in 1978 the voters passed Proposition 13 which required the vote of 2/3rd of the legislature to raise taxes. Even though Democrats hold large majorities in the state legislature chambers, their numbers fall just shy of 2/3rds. As a result this gives the tiny minority of Republicans an incredible amount of power over budget issues. The GOP has used this power to stick to pure anti-tax orthodoxy.
This initiative will be an very interesting test case to see if voters are prepared to fund the government services they want and expect. Otherwise the state is going to need to go through another series of big cuts.