California voters will have not one but three chances to take down rich people a peg or two as supporters of two ballot initiatives that would raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest people, ostensibly to fund public education and other services, say they’re not backing down from their efforts.
(NOTE OF IRONY: Bet Zuckerberg and the Facebook folks are just thrilled now with the timing of their IPO; a whole crop of millionaires being created just in time to get dinged by taxes. That'll teach you to be successful.)
Those other two initiatives could upend Gov. Jerry Brown's crusade to clear the November ballot of any competing tax measures so his take on the “millionaires’ tax” can pass. Or California voters could do what they almost always do when faced with competing or multiple measures on the same subject - reject all three.
Backers of the so-called "Millionaires Tax" officially began signature gathering last week, while proponents of the other measure, “Our Children, Our Future,” got a pledge from the primary backer that she would “spend millions” to get the initiative on the ballot.
"The Millionaires Tax of 2012" is supported most prominently by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), the Courage Campaign (a liberal grassroots advocacy clan), and the California Nurses Association (CNA). Signature gathering has already started on the proposal which increases income taxes on people who earn more than $1 million a year in California. It will generate $9.5 billion annually, with the majority of the revenue dedicated to education (beneficiary: CFT), health services (beneficiary: CNA) and public safety. It has no expiration date.
This is all so Obama-esque. As you may recall, President Obama’s plan is to enact a higher tax rate for people making more than $1 million a year. The Prez said his plan – which he calls “The Buffett Rule” - is to make sure the nation's wealthy pay at least the same tax percentage as the middle class.
Meanwhile, with "Our Children, Our Future," the income tax for everyone in the state would increase, though the largest escalation wil fall on the highest wage earners. The prime backer is Molly Munger, a civil rights attorney from SoCal whose family is worth billions. She estimates the proposal would generate $10 billion a year that would be dedicated solely to education, with criminal penalties if lawmakers try to adjust it. It expires after 12 years. (Munger has given $800,000 so far to the effort.)
The Governor's plan would increase the sales tax by half a cent along with raising income taxes on individuals with annual incomes of $250,000 or more. It’s estimated to bring in $7 billion per year and would sunset after five years.
Both “The Millionaires Tax” posse and the "Our Children, Our Future" clique predictably expressed confidence that conventional wisdom is wrong, wrong, wrong and that one or more of the tax measures could pass even with multiple initiatives on the ballot. In typical tax the rich mode, it’s ready, fire, aim.
But the better analysis came from Steve Glazer, the Gov’s top political adviser. He is reported as saying the probable impact of multiple measures is that all of them would receive diminished support; comparing all the efforts to a circular firing squad. Somehow apropos.