Jerry Brown's California Tax Increase Initiative (2012)

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A California Tax Increase Initiative (#11-0090, #12-0001) was approved for circulation in California as an initiated constitutional amendment. To earn a spot on the state's 2012 ballot, sponsors of the initiative would have had to collect 807,615 signatures.

However, on March 14, 2012, Jerry Brown announced that he had struck a deal with the California Federation of Teachers to merge his tax increase proposal with their "Millionaire's Tax". The merged initiative is the California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative.[1]

Jerry Brown's original proposal, if it had been approved, would have:

  • Increased the state income tax levied on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years.
  • Increased the state's sales and use tax by 1/2 cent for four years.[2]
  • Allocated 89% of these temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools, and 11% to community colleges.

In an open letter to California voters when the initiative was first filed, Gov. Jerry Brown wrote, "The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts. I am going directly to voters because I don't want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high."[3][4]

Competing tax initiatives

The Brown tax increase initiative, before it merged with the Millionaire's Tax in March 2012, was one of several competing tax increase measures . The others were:

Of these, the Molly Munger proposal and the Millionaire's Tax Increase Initiative were most often mentioned as competing with Jerry Brown's tax hike proposal. The sense of competition came from the concern, among those who generally support a tax increase, that if there are multiple tax increase proposals on the November 6, 2012, ballot, they might all fail. Whereas, these tacticians believed, if only one tax increase initiative is on the ballot, it stands a better chance of passing.[5] Strategists have said:

  • Steve Glazer, who is working for the Jerry Brown tax hike: "When voters are offered choices among competing [tax] measures, it depresses the support for each of them. The likely result will be all of them failing."[6]
  • Darrell Steinberg, the President Pro Tem of the California State Senate: "The real problem is that if you have multiple measures on the ballot, you dramatically increase the likelihood that they will all fail. That’s not an acceptable outcome."[7]
  • Harold Meyerson, vice-chairman of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)[8] and op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, says, ."..a look back at state history reveals numerous episodes in which Californians essentially championing the same cause have put rival measures on the same ballot, only to create a sea of voter confusion that doomed the proposals on election day."[9]
  • Dan Newman, communications director for the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Phil Angelides, says, "While any one or two of these have a fighting chance in isolation, if it feels like the taxman is looming around every corner, a voter might understandably bar the door and reject everything on the ballot."[3]

Joshua Pechthalt, who supported the Millionaire's Tax, said, "We're not concerned that there will be multiple [tax increase] measures on the ballot...[voters will] be able to decide which makes sense for them."[10]

The Think Long Committee for California had planned to submit a tax increase proposal for California's 2012 ballot but in mid-January 2012, announced that it would defer a proposal until the 2014 ballot and in the meantime would "partner with other organizations by generously supporting one or more" of the competing tax hike measures.[11] The Brown proposal was considered to be the most likely recipient of their largesse.[12]

Support

Supporters

  • Jerry Brown. In a speech to the California Democratic Party on February 11, 2012, he contrasted his tax hike measure to several competing tax hike measures, saying, ""We've got to pass a tax measure...You'll get your marching orders soon enough."[5]
  • The California Teachers Association endorsed the proposition on January 28, 2012. Dean Vogel, who is the president of the union, contrasted the Brown tax increase proposal to other tax increase proposals that may qualify for the 2012 ballot, saying, "The governor’s initiative is the only initiative that provides additional revenues for our classrooms and closes the state budget deficit, and guarantees local communities will receive funds to pay for the realignment of local health and public safety services that the Legislature approved last year."[2]
  • The California Medical Association endorsed the tax hike in early February in terms that contrasted it favorably to the other two main take hike proposals that were circulating, saying it "is the only viable, balanced plan on the table to address the chronic budget crisis and protect essential health care services."[13]

Donors

The campaign for Jerry Brown's tax increase initiative had raised $1.7 million as of January 31, 2012.[14]

Donors included:

Donor Amount
California Hospitals Committee $500,000
American Beverage Association $250,000
Occidental Petroleum $250,000

At the annual state convention of the California Democratic Party, held in San Diego in February 2012, "Gov. Jerry Brown slipped away to a neighboring hotel to host a $25,000-a-plate lunch for a select group of contributors...The fundraising event, which was closed to the media but had about two dozen guests, according to some who attended, provided an intimate audience with the governor for lobbyists whose clients had opened their wallets to back Brown's proposed tax-increase initiative."[5]

Opposition

  • Lewis Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee said, "Raising taxes at this point is just so beyond the pale. I just don't see people buying into the class-warfare stuff. They're not only trying to increase taxes on high-income families, but also the sales tax."[15]
  • California State Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton said, "Clearly, the governor has put tax hikes ahead of job creation. Californians have consistently voted down tax-only proposals."[3]

Text of measure

See also: Ballot titles, summaries and fiscal statements for California's 2012 ballot propositions

Note: Versions #11-0090 and #12-0001 were given identical ballot titles, ballot summaries and fiscal impact statements.

Ballot title:

Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Official summary:

"Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years. Increases sales and use tax by 1/2 cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are to be spent. Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments."

Fiscal impact statement:

(Note: The fiscal impact statement for a California ballot initiative authorized for circulation is jointly prepared by the state's Legislative Analyst and its Director of Finance.)

"Increased state revenues over the next five fiscal years. Estimates of the revenue increases vary--for 2012-13, from $4.8 billion to $6.9 billion; for 2013-14 through 2015-16, from $5.5 billion to $6.9 billion on average each year; and for 2016-17, from $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion. These revenues would be available to (1) pay for the state's school and community college funding requirements, as increased by this measure, and (2) address the state's budgetary problem by paying for other spending commitments. Limitation on the state's ability to make changes to the programs and revenues shifted to local governments in 2011, resulting in a more stable fiscal situation for local governments."

Polling information

See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures

A January 2012 poll conducted by PPIC indicated significant support for the tax increase proposal.[16] A Field Poll in February 2012 showed that a majority of likely voters continue to support the measure.[17] An internal poll conducted by Jerry Brown's pollster, Jim Moore, also showed the Jerry Brown Tax Hike Initiative with majority support in February 2012. However, that same poll indicated that if the Brown initiative appears on the November 6, 2012, ballot alongside two other tax hike proposals (the Molly Munger Tax Hike and the Millionaire's Tax), all three will lose.[18][19]

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
January 10-17, 2012 PPIC 72% 26% 2% 2,002
February 14-18, 2012 Field 58% 36% 6% 1,003
February 17-19, 2012 Jim Moore[20] 53% 36% 11% 500
February 17-19, 2012 Jim Moore[21] 43% 52% 5% 500
February 21-28, 2012 PPIC 52% 40% 8% 2,001

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

See also

External links

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Suggest a link

References

  1. Business Week, "Brown Reaches Deal With Union on Tax-Increase Compromise," March 15, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 EdSource, "California Teachers Association endorses Brown tax initiative," January 29, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ventura County Star, "Two initiatives filed, one by Gov. Brown, to raise taxes on the rich," December 5, 2011
  4. Reuters, "California governor launches tax ballot measure," December 5, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Los Angeles Times, "Dueling tax hike measures pushed as Democrats hold convention," February 12, 2012
  6. San Francisco Examiner, "Tax tussles heading to ballot box," February 16, 2012
  7. Los Angeles Times, "California Senate leader calls for paring tax proposals on ballot," February 16, 2012
  8. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) web site, "our structure," accessed May 1, 2012
  9. Los Angeles Times, "California's glut of tax-hike initiatives," December 12, 2011
  10. San Francisco Chronicle, "Tax measures to compete with Gov. Brown's plan," February 7, 2012
  11. Los Angeles Times, "Group of billionaires, political insiders postpones November tax initiative," January 17, 2012
  12. Sacramento Bee, "'Think Long Committee for California' backs away from tax measure," January 17, 2012
  13. American Medical Association, "California tax hike could take pressure off Medicaid," February 10, 2012
  14. Mercury News, "Brown reports $1.7 million for his tax campaign," January 31, 2012
  15. Orange County Register, "Californians not willing to tax themselves," January 30, 2012
  16. PPIC, "Californians and Their Government," January 2012
  17. Field Poll, "Both Millionaire's and Governor's Tax Initiatives favored by Majorities. Less Support for Munger Tax Plan," February 24, 2012
  18. Los Angeles Times, "Poll: Jerry Brown's tax can pass, but not with rivals on ballot," February 22, 2012
  19. February 20, 2012 memo from pollster Jim Moore to Jerry Brown
  20. If just one tax hike measure is on the ballot
  21. If all three competing tax hike measures are on the ballot