In the wake of the November 6 elections, voters have approved a number of contentious state initiatives, including a $6-billion-a-year bundle of tax increases sponsored by California Governor Jerry Brown. Proposition 30, a focal point of Brown’s administration, would increase the sales tax by 0.25 cent for the next four years, while raising income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 for the next seven years.
Specifically, the measure installs three new personal income tax brackets for high-income residents, and the wealthiest one percent — which includes those earning at least $533,000 a year in income — will account for nearly 80 percent of the tax hike. Those high-income earners will see their income taxes rise by 1.1 percent, while the bottom four-fifths of the state’s earners will see a tax increase of between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent.
“I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: ‘Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?’” Brown asserted Tuesday night to a rally of supporters. “Here we are.… We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says, ‘Let’s raise our taxes, for our kids for our schools, and for our California dream.’”
The Governor billed his tax plan as a measure to prevent spending cuts to the state’s universities and public school system, insisting that rejecting Prop 30 would translate into a $6-billion spending cut to schools starting January 1 — which, he warned, would hike tuition at public universities and abridge the school year for K-12 public education.
Naturally, public employee unions provided rigid support for the effort, doling out a considerable portion of the $40 million spent to back the proposal. “It sold itself,” Brown declared at a victory party in Sacramento. "The core reason it brought people together was a belief in schools and universities and the capacity of government to make wise investments that benefit all of us."
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Photo of California Governor Jerry Brown thanking supporters after the passage of his Proposition 30 tax hike initiative: AP Images