Gov. Jerry Brown, making an end-run around legislative Republicans, unveiled his long-awaited tax plan — a $7 billion-a-year mega-package over five years that includes new levies on California’s wealthiest taxpayers to provide money for schools and public safety.
“I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high,” Brown said through his press office. “My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education.”
“Without new tax revenues,” he added. “We will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts.”
The governor said millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2 percent higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2 percent of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase.
He said there also will be a temporary, half-penny increase in the statewide sales tax, but “even with this increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.”
Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway denounced the governor’s proposal.
“The majority party’s budget priorities are clear – sock working families with a painful tax increase to pay for more health and welfare spending and unsustainable public employee pensions, while education continues to take a massive hit,” she said.
The Democratic governor said the administration and Legislature already have approved some $10 billion in cuts, noting that the state faced a $26.6 billion shortfall when he took office in January.
He noted that he earlier attempted to place a revenue package on the ballot, but that it was blocked in the Legislature.
“I don’t know how you would have voted, but we will never know. The Republicans refused to provide the four votes needed to put this measure on the ballot,” Brown said.