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Will Californians vote for higher taxes to close budget deficit?

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December 20, 2010

Gov-elect Jerry Brown has begun hinting to the press and voters in California that he may ask the California State Legislature to refer a tax hike ballot proposition to a statewide ballot in 2011.[1]

If a Tax Hike Proposition goes on a statewide ballot in California in 2011, the most likely month for the election is said to be June 2011.[2]

California's state budget faces an estimated $28 billion budget deficit. According to Brown, the "day of reckoning" has arrived, and voters will have to make a choice between imposing higher taxes on themselves, and reducing state spending.[3]

Reporter Steve Harmon says that getting a tax increase proposition on the ballot will be a challenge: "How Brown brings a tax vote to the people is a tangled question filled with unlimited traps and complications, starting with the need to bring Republicans and Democrats together, stave off revolts from his own allies who will feel a lot of pain as his plans emerge, and persuade a skeptical public."[3]

Ryan Emenaker, an assistant professor of political science at College of the Redwoods, made some predictions about what a tax increase request might look like. He believes that voters are more likely to vote in favor of tax hikes that don't increase their taxes, but do increase someone else's taxes. With that in mind, possible tax increase proposals would be for an oil excise tax or corporate tax increases, as opposed to a sales tax increase or a state income tax increase. Emenaker also said that politically, it might be wise to put multiple tax proposals on the 2011 ballot, so that voters could "take out their anger on something" by voting no on some propositions, while also approving some.[4]

Type Title Subject Description Result
LR State Tax Increase Taxes A package of state tax increases Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot

See also