On Nov. 6, the same day as voters head to the polls for the presidential election, California residents will cast a ballot for three initiatives: Propositions 30, 32 and 38. What are these measures being proposed to The Golden State electorate that officials say will generate enormous revenue and save many social programs?
Proposition 30: Increase taxes on the sales tax and higher-income Californians.
Specifics: Raise sales tax to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent, impose a tax rate of between 10.3 percent and 13.3 percent on those earning between $250,000 and $1 million and apply the rates retroactively to Jan. 1, 2012.
Reason: To raise an additional $6 billion (Governor Jerry Brown’s estimates are $9 billion) in revenue to transfer over to K to 12 and post-secondary education.
Proposition 32: Ban corporations, government contractors and unions from making donations to state and local political candidates and their campaigns.
Reason: The state government is attempting to limit power of public employee unions in California.
Proposition 38: Raise taxes on the rest of California residents, despite their income group.
Specifics: Income tax hike from 0.4 percent for those making $7,316 to 2.2 percent for those earning more than $2.5 million. The increase would stay for 12 years, unless it is reauthorized by voters. The generated funds would give 60 percent during the first four years to K to 12 schools, 30 percent to repaying state debt and 10 percent to early childhood programs. After the first four years, 85 percent will be transferred to K to 12 schools and 15 percent to childhood programs.
Reason: Another revenue source to allocate for education, other social programs and state debt.
On Monday, a new poll by Reason-Rupe was published and it found that the state is relatively split on all three propositions, but support is dropping for the ballot measures, according to a press release.
The poll found that 50 percent support the Democratic governor’s Proposition 30, while 46 percent intend to vote “no.” Meanwhile, 45 percent of likely voters support Prop 32 and 48 percent oppose it. When it comes to Prop 38, 42 percent plan to vote in favor of the proposal and 52 percent of respondents said they do not approve of it.
Although much of the state’s voters are divided, there are signals that many are frustrated with the government’s mismanagement, growing debt and endless spending. Over the past decade, California has increased spending by 42 percent, but the survey found that only 14 percent said that it hasn’t improved the quality of life in the Democratic-leaning state.
The poll, which was made up of nearly half of Democrats, found that 56 percent say the state government should roll back spending to 2000 levels, while a quarter do not support such an initiative.
One of the reasons California is facing financial hardship is due to the excessive pay that public sector employees receive. The media release noted that the average prison guard earns more than $100,000 each year in salary, benefits and overtime – more than half said the guards are overpaid, but 38 percent responded that the guards are paid the right amount.
In relation to the high pay, 74 percent of Californians argued that taxpayers should be able to vote on whether or not government should be given a retirement or benefit increase. Also, more than half (53 percent) agreed that public sector officials have too much influence over elected officials at the negotiating table, while 42 percent concurred that public sector unions hurt the overall state economy.
Recently, California has forewarned of hikes to post-secondary tuition and fees if the tax increases are not approved, but the public supports education reforms instead of further taxation. A majority favor full-time faculty to teach an additional class each year, offer courses in the summer, transition low-enrollment courses into online programs and merge certain academic classes.
According to the New York Times, the directors of the State Budget Crisis Task Force confirmed that the state’s debt is ranged between $167 and $335 billion, which is substantially higher than the governor’s previous estimations of $28 billion.
California faces a budget deficit for 2012-2013 of $16 billion.
“We are now facing a $16 billion shortfall, not the $9 billion we thought in January,” Brown stated in a YouTube video. “This means we will have to go much further and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year.
“We can’t fill this hole with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools. That’s why I am bypassing the gridlock and asking you the people of California to approve a plan that avoids cuts to schools and public safety.”
A wave of municipal bankruptcies has taken place since the recession began in 2008. These bankruptcies occurred due to unfunded public pension liabilities. Some of the cities include San Bernardino, Mammoth Lakes and Stockton and Compton and Victorville are expected to follow suit.
The telephone poll was conducted with 696 adults between Oct. 11 and Oct. 15. It contains a margin of error +/- 3.8 percentage points.