Proposition 30 wins: Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax will raise $6 billion to prevent school cuts
Mercury News: Overcoming decades of anti-tax sentiment in California, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 — billed as a tax hike to rescue the state’s schools — has emerged victorious in surprisingly decisive fashion.
The measure led 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent with all precincts around the state reporting results by Wednesday afternoon, according to the Secretary of State.
With some ballots left to be counted, the difference was 717,960 votes — hardly a landslide but more than anyone expected in what was supposed to be a very tight race. Some pollsters were even leaning toward predicting a defeat for the measure in the weeks before the election.
Brown declared victory in a rally just before midnight Tuesday and the opposition conceded Wednesday morning. “We had a lot of obstacles,” the governor said. “We overcame them.” He added: “I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?‘ Here we are. … We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says, ‘Let’s raise our taxes, for our kids for our schools, and for our California dream.”’
Proposition 30 will raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years starting Jan. 1 and increase income taxes for people who make at least $250,000 by up to 3 percentage points for seven years, retroactive to the start of the 2012 tax year. It is projected to raise an average of $6 billion annually for the state’s general fund and education to prevent nearly $6 billion in “trigger cuts,” mostly to education, this year.
It is the first general tax Californians have passed in two decades. “While we are disappointed in the outcome of the campaign, the voters have spoken,” the No on 30 campaign said in a statement Wednesday morning. “We congratulate Gov. Brown and his team on their victory and thank all the small business owners, taxpayers and other groups from every corner of the state for their extraordinary commitment to the ‘No on 30 campaign.”
Brown has made Proposition 30 the hallmark of his administration, spending the year trying to convince voters that California schools have reached a breaking point and need taxpayers to come to the rescue. “It sold itself,” he said at a victory party in Sacramento. “The core reason it brought people together was a belief in schools and universities and the capacity of government to make wise investments that benefit all of us.”
Los Angeles County, the Bay Area and coastal areas supported the measure while inland and rural areas rejected it. The biggest support was in liberal San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Alameda counties, while the largest opposition was in little Modoc County at the northeast tip of the state.
Brown’s campaign has raised more than $40 million, mostly from teachers unions and other labor groups. Some business groups, most school districts, celebrities and the state’s major newspapers also endorsed the measure, saying a tax increase was needed to balance the state budget and prevent schools from chopping days or even weeks off the school year.
“If Prop. 30 doesn’t pass, we’ll be looking at huge class sizes and a lot of major cuts,” Kevin Thompson, a teacher in Union School District in San Jose who took time off from teaching to campaign for the measure, said if Proposition 30 had failed, “we’d be looking at huge class sizes and a lot of major cuts.”
Meanwhile, anti-tax groups led by Palo Alto physicist Charles Munger Jr., son of billionaire businessman Charles Munger, and an Arizona group fought hard to defeat the measure. They argued that the state was wasting money on high-profile projects such as high-speed rail and did not need more tax money.
Brown’s approval of $69 billion high-speed rail line, the discovery of a hidden pot of state parks funds and other problems made Brown’s effort harder.
With a state budget deficit of over $16 Billion, Californians really want to pay more taxes and entrust the state to invest their money wisely? Maybe if the state had learned how to invest wisely to begin with, the state wouldn’t be in such a financial crisis.