This week Governor Brown officially announced the launch of his proposal to raise taxes with the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, as the initiative has now been officially filed with the Attorney General's Office. You’ll recall that the measure would raise $7 billion annually by taxing the rich and hiking the sales tax by half a cent (and both of these tax hikes would expire at the end of 2016).
The text of the measure emphasizes repeatedly that funding will support education as well as realignment, i.e. public safety. The measure states, “This measure gives constitutional protection to the shift of local public safety programs from state to local control and the shift of state revenues to local government to pay for those programs. It guarantees that schools are not harmed by providing even more funding than schools would have received without the shift.”
To corral support around this initiative, the governor also released “An Open Letter to the People of California.” The letter states: “The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety, and our courts.” The governor also explains that he is resorting to an initiative because he does not want to get bogged down by partisan gridlock and that the stakes are too high. You can read the full letter here.
And in response to the governor’s tax proposal, the California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Small Business Action Committee have filed an initiative of their own that would cap state spending. The Bee reports the following on the proposal:
“The proposal would reconfigure the Gann Limit, a 1979 spending restriction established on the heels of tax-limiting Proposition 13. Voters later softened the limit, and the state is now $17 billion below the spending cap. […] In years where tax revenues are greater than the limit, the state would first have to pay down debt and then divide up to $2 billion between schools and a rainy-day fund. If money is left over, the state would return money to taxpayers.”
Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. wrote the following description of the measure over at the Flash Report: “The measure will limit annual state appropriations to the prior year's level (adjusted for cost of living and population growth), require surplus revenue to first be spent on debt service and strengthen the two-thirds vote requirement for legislative passage of laws that authorize or raise new or higher taxes. The measure will give voters the choice they deserve. I firmly believe voters want Sacramento to prioritize spending and live within our means – once and for all.”