The Riggs Report: ‘Tax the rich’ support remains strong
September 29, 2016
New poll numbers favor passage of Proposition 55
When Gov. Jerry Brown campaigned in 2012 for passage of Proposition 30, a package of tax increases, he made it clear he intended those taxes to be temporary to help plug a dangerous budget gap. Others had a different idea of what the term “temporary” meant.
That brings us to 2016, and Proposition 55. This week, a new Field Poll indicated that support is strong for the passage of Proposition 55, a descendant of Prop 30, which would extend higher income taxes on California’s wealthiest citizens.
The survey found a strong lead for the measure, 60 percent to 30 percent among likely voters.
It’s not hard to understand why. In many voters’ minds, the only good tax is the one that doesn’t affect them. That’s the very definition of Prop 55, which is heavily backed by education and health care groups.
The current income tax increase on high-income earners is set to expire beginning in 2018. Prop 55 would extend that increase to 2030.
The increase ranges from one to three percent, and applies only to those who make $250,000 or more a year. In other words, very few of us.
The money raised is difficult to pinpoint. According to the state’s legislative analyst, the amount would range from $4 billion to $9 billion a year, depending on how the economy and the stock market are performing.
Most of the money that is raised would be funneled to K-12 schools and community colleges. The rest would help pay for health care programs and for the state’s rainy day fund.
It’s always tricky to have schools depend on such a roller-coaster source of funding. But education groups have done an effective job of promoting the tax extension as a way to safeguard against the next economic downturn.
Brown had to use all of his political skills four years ago to pass the tax increase. This year, by contrast, he is staying neutral on Proposition 55. And voters are poised to pass it anyway.