4 or more tax measures likely on crowded fall ballot

Prop. 30With low state turnout in the 2014 election making it much easier than normal to qualify a ballot measure for elections this year, Californians may see their most overloaded ballot yet. The glut includes several proposals to raise taxes or extend expiring levies — starting with Proposition 30, a 2012 ballot measure that voters were assured would only raise taxes on a “temporary” basis. The San Francisco Chronicle offered this overview:

A measure backed by the California Teachers Association would extend Prop. 30’s higher tax rates on the wealthiest Californians until 2030, with an estimated $7.5 billion each year going to public schools and community colleges.


Another measure, this one by the California Hospital Association and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, makes those higher tax rates permanent and sends half the annual estimated $10 billion to public schools, colleges and universities, 40 percent to Medi-Cal for low-income health care and 10 percent for early childhood development programs. It also imposes a new, higher tax rate on those who make more than $1 million annually. …


[Negotiators] for the teachers group and the hospital association have been talking about a third option, which would extend Prop. 30’s higher tax rates and split the money between schools and health programs. That measure is awaiting approval from the state Attorney General’s Office, and a decision about whether to aim that initiative for the ballot won’t be made until later this month. …


“We’d prefer one measure, especially on a crowded ballot,” said Gale Kaufman, a political consultant working on the teachers’ measure. “My instincts say less is better always, but it’s difficult to have any hard and fast rules.”

The focus isn’t just on income tax ballot measures, though they have gotten the most early attention. The Chronicle notes that the Making Poverty History initiative “would add a surcharge to the tax bill for land and buildings with an assessed value of $3 million or more. The $6 billion raised annually would go toward programs to reduce poverty in the state, including prenatal services, expanded child care, tax credits and job training grants.”

Steyer follows Schwarzenegger strategy

Thomas SteyerTom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist who is exploring a 2018 run for governor, also is looking to make a political name for himself with a ballot measure, as Arnold Schwarzenegger did in 2002 with Proposition 49, a successful ballot measure funding after-school programs, a year before the recall election that ousted Gov. Gray Davis.

Steyer is behind the Save Lives California campaign, which would use a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes to shore up state Medi-Cal funding and to pay for health-promotion and anti-smoking programs.

A previous ballot measure that successfully raised cigarette taxes was also sponsored by a non-politician believed to be interested in running for governor. Championed by Hollywood producer-director-actor Rob Reiner, Proposition 10 added a 50-cent levy on a pack of cigarettes, with proceeds used mostly to fund early childhood education programs.

But Reiner, unlike Schwarzenegger, never ran for state office.

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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