A look at the props
Part 1 in a series
Tax issues can be touchy. Depending on who you ask, some propositions on this year’s ballot will either draw more red ink from the state’s already hemorrhaging ledger or are just the fix to stem the flow. In an effort to offer some clarity on the ballot initiatives we’ll vote on this November, here are some of the arguments both for against those measures concerning taxes and the state budget in some way, starting with dueling education initiatives:
Commonly referred to as Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, this proposition makes good on Brown’s pledge to put an income tax increase on the ballot after the legislature rejected a similar measure. Both proposed tax increases that are part of the plan are temporary – individual incomes over $250,000 would be taxed at a higher rate for seven years and a 1/4-percent increase on sales tax would last for four years, with the combination bringing in an estimated $6 billion this year. That revenue is, in fact, already earmarked for schools and public safety; failure to pass the prop would result in a shortfall.
Supporters say: Brown and others have argued forcefully against the $6 billion in additional cuts that will come to school budgets if the proposition fails, and call on those with higher incomes to help stanch the budgetary bleeding.
Opponents say: With the economy already struggling, a tax increase that might total $50 billion over seven years could stagnate recovery. Further, those against the proposition complain, the bill does not include reform for school budgets.
Similar to Brown’s proposition, this initiative, led by millionaire attorney Molly Munger, proposes a tax increase mainly to fund education. Though the increase would extend 12 years and affect everyone making more than $7,316 a year and generate an estimated $10 billion a year.If both propositions 30 and 38 pass, the one receiving the most votes would be enacted because they conflict. If 38 becomes law, it will still trigger a $5.9 billion cut in education and public safety budgets between now and July, 2013 because, unlike Proposition 30, it isn’t keyed to the trigger cuts set by the legislature.
Supporters say: Proponents claim Proposition 38 is the only true education initiative on the ballot because only it “guarantees” funding for schools at the local level.
Opponents say: Supporters of Brown’s plan point out that if Proposition 38 supersedes 30, the $6 billion in cuts to education this year will not be avoided. Others complain of the tax burden across nearly all income levels.
In an effort to address lingering dysfunctions within the state, the proposition corrals accountability, budgetary and transparency reforms into one package. It includes such provisions as a requirements that bills be published three days prior to a vote and that legislators identify funding sources for any new program or tax deduction that would cost more than $25 million. It also changes the one-year budget cycle to a two-year cycle and mandates performance reviews of state and local programs.
Supporters say: Transparency and oversight will prevent state legislators from spending money they don’t have. Giving local governments more power to shape and implement programs will better meet local needs.
Opponents say: The extra layers of bureaucracy and contradictory phrasing in the proposition would only serve to further bloat an already cumbersome state government. Provisions allowing local politicos to override state measures could prove costly and dangerous.
This measure seeks to prohibit unions and certain corporations from making political and campaign contributions that have been derived from paycheck deductions. It also includes additional restrictions on political contributions made by unions, some corporations and government contractors.
Supporters say: These reforms will serve to cut ties between special interests and Sacramento.
Opponents say: The League of Women Voters and others argue that the measure is so full of exemptions and loopholes that instead of reforming campaign finance it would actually make matters worse. Labor interests insist it is a cynical attempt to stiffle the political influence of unions while corporations suffer no similar constraints.
Companies that do business in both California and other states (multistate businesses) currently have two options to determine the amount of their income that is taxable by the state.If the proposition passes, all multistate businesses would pay income taxes bases on the percentage of their sales in California, which would result in an increase of an estimated $1 billion in annual tax revenue to the state. The proposition stipulates that half of this revenue over the next five years would be spent on sustainable energy projects.
Supporters say: Proposition 39 closes tax loopholes for out-of-state corporations and encourages companies to bring jobs to California by ending a manipulation that currently allows businesses to avoid paying taxes in California by keeping staff elsewhere.
Opponents say: Those against the measure argue that it’s a $1-billion tax on job creators that will result in a loss of jobs.
Proposition talks planned
Several organizations in Sonoma are hosting free community seminars to review and discuss the various state propositions in coming weeks. The events are free and open to the public.
The Sonoma Branch of the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters are presenting a forum from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at Vintage House senior center, 246 First St. E.
Presenters Dee Bridges and Alice Richardson from the League of Women Voters will have printed information on all of the propositions, and will speak specifically on propositions 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38 and 40, with time for questions. They will also speak to propositions 33, 35 and 39 if so requested by attendees.
On Friday, Oct. 26, at 4 p.m., author, teacher and journalist Kathleen Hill will give a talk at Readers’ Books to explain the slate of initiatives on the 2012 California ballot. Hill, along with her late husband, Gerald Hill, have been offering these talks regularly prior to every election for many years now. Kathleen Hill has taught American politics and government at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria and Sonoma State University. She has also lectured at U.C. Berkeley, where she and her husband were visiting scholars at the Institute for Governmental Studies for several years. She is currently food and wine editor of The Sonoma Index-Tribune and SONOMA magazine.