Republicans blocked the efforts of California Gov.
Jerry Brown to fix a budget crisis through more tax revenues. So his new
plan is to go straight to voters in 2012.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proposed a ballot initiative that would ask Californians to raise taxes on themselves.
Facing huge deficits despite $10 billion in budget cuts last year, California
needs new tax dollars in order to avoid catastrophic cuts to schools
and government services for the elderly, Governor Brown said.His
plan includes a 1 percent income-tax-rate increase for individuals
making more than $250,000 per year, and a 2 percent rate increase for
those making more than $500,000. It would also increase the state sales
tax by half a cent to 7.75 percent.RECOMMENDED: Why Americans won't raise taxes
total, at least 10 initiatives that propose tax increases are vying to
qualify for the 2012 ballot in California – a sign that the state that
led the national tax revolt with Proposition 13 in 1978 might now be
considering at least a partial reversal of course.With many
states still focused only on cuts, such a bold statement from California
could reverberate nationwide – either giving other states cover to try
similar measures or showing that, even with budgets in dire straits, tax
increases are a political impossibility.“A victory for tax increases in California could encourage similar moves in other states,” says Jack Pitney,
a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. “If the tax measure
goes down to defeat – in a blue state running a huge deficit – the
effect would be to chill such proposals in other states for many years
to come.”Brown’s proposal is projected to raise $7 billion per
year and would expire in 2016. On Monday, he dismissed the idea of going
through the Legislature, where a two-thirds vote is needed for raising
taxes. Indeed, Brown tried to go through the Legislature earlier this
year to get a tax measure put on the ballot, but Republicans blocked
him.So now the plan is to collect enough citizen signatures to put his plan on the ballot without any input from lawmakers.
am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down
in partisan gridlock as happened this year,” said Brown in a statement.
“The stakes are too high.”He suggested that the state can’t make
any more cuts responsibly. “Spending is now at levels not seen since
the ’70s,” he said. “Schools have been hurt, and state funding for our
universities has been reduced by 25 percent. Support for the elderly and
the disabled has fallen to where it was in 1983.”“The stark
truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but
to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public
safety, and our courts,” he added.The depth of recent cuts may
have changed minds in California. Some 64 percent of California voters
said they would pay more taxes if the money went to public schools,
according to a November poll by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California.“Now
people are seeing how spending cuts are hitting the most vulnerable –
elderly and kids in school,” says Loyola Law School professor Jessica
Levinson, former director of political reform at the Center for
Governmental Studies.But analysts say the sheer number of initiatives may overload voters. Moreover, Republicans could try to counter with initiatives of their own.
Brown may be successful in persuading some of his allies in his
tax-increase battle to remove their initiatives from the ballot, one
might imagine that his opponents will decide to pursue a voter
misdirection strategy by seeking to add counterbalancing initiatives of
their own,” says Lara Brown, a Villanova University professor and author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency.”The
stakes are high for what might follow in other states. “In the same way
that Proposition 13 did, indications are that California is willing to
turn the corner on what government is and our willingness to fund it,”
says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for Study of
Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. “Perhaps it is time to lead the rest of the country out of the morass by example.”
Not a word of this on local Ca. news,wonder why....
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