Governor Jerry Brown has been getting a lot of media coverage lately for his efforts to promote his ballot measure which he is selling as a way to stop further cuts to education in the coming years and help solve California’s seemingly eternal budget crisis. While the mainstream media has showered much attention on Brown, whose initiative would temporarily raise taxes on those earning over $250,000 and raise the sales tax on all Californians, very little notice has gone to the Millionaires Tax, which is vastly superior to the governor’s measure for many reasons.
While I have written about the Millionaires Tax in a previous column for the OB Rag and for Labor Notes , it is worth reviewing the central arguments why California voters should support the Millionaires Tax rather than the Governor’s initiative. What are the top ten reasons to support the Millionaires Tax?
1. The Millionaires Tax is a permanent tax increase on millionaires while the Governor’s initiative is a temporary 4-year measure that will not bring in enough revenue to restore the cuts that have been made to education, infrastructure, and vital public services—not here in San Diego or anywhere else in the state.
2. The Millionaires Tax will not cost a single penny for anyone making less than $1 million a year. The regressive sales tax in the Governor’s initiative will hit everyone and regressive taxes disproportionately affect the poor who already pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rich do.
3. With 70% or higher support (depending on the poll), the Millionaires Tax enjoys the strongest support among the revenue proposals based on extensive polling and research. Even the backers of other initiatives admit that the Millionaires Tax is the easiest to pass. While a recent poll showed the progressive taxes in the Governor’s measure to be supported by 68%, the same poll indicated that 64% of those questioned disapproved of the sales tax in his measure. Thus the regressive taxes that Brown included to please the Chamber of Commerce will act as a lead weight on his initiative. So if you want a clear winner in practical terms, it’s the Millionaires Tax. If you want to make Grover Norquist’s crew happy, support the Governor’s plan.
4. The Millionaires Tax will bring in $6 to 9.5 billion annually for K-12, community colleges, CSU’s and UC’s, and to fund crucial services that have been decimated by cuts, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The LAO estimates that the Governor’s measure will only bring in $4.8 to 6 billion
5. Money from the Millionaires Tax goes directly into school districts and counties so Californians can see the results. As we know, Californians do not trust Sacramento. They want to see new funds go to work, not get lost in bureaucracy.
6. Higher education investment benefits working class and middle class students, whose tuition has increased 300% over the last decade. It’s time to stop taxing students via tuition and fee increases and start asking the 1% to pay their fair share.
7. The campaign for the Millionaires Tax energizes and engages the progressive base, including rank and file union members, activists and college students to be FOR something, so that we can turn out the base to defeat paycheck deception and win other key electoral races for progressive candidates. Taking money from Occidental Petroleum, the California Hospitals Association, Blue Shield, Indian casinos, and other corporate interests as the Governor’s campaign has done in exchange for a weaker measure including regressive taxes is a toxic compromise that only makes voters more cynical about the process.
8. The campaign for the Millionaires tax will strengthen labor-community coalitions to promote a progressive agenda while building a movement for future reforms – WITHOUT RELYING ON POLITICIANS. We should not have to tie the future of California’s education system and other public services to the political calculations of Jerry Brown. Many in the progressive community supported Brown’s efforts to win over a handful of Republicans to vote for a very reasonable extension of then currently existing regressive taxes last year. He failed and schools and public services were cut yet again. We should not take that risk again this time. The price is too steep.
9. The Millionaires Tax is a unique expression of the broader national effort, most clearly seen in the Occupy Movement, to bring economic and tax equity to the 99% of Americans who have been left out, and can spur similar efforts in other states.
10. The Millionaires Tax resonates with President Obama’s reelection message (to have millionaires, who have benefited the most from society, pay their fair share). It would bring the Buffet rule to California.
Thus, if you really care about the future of the state of California and want to take a big step toward actually restoring some of the devastating cuts we’ve seen most severely affect students, the sick, the elderly, sign the Millionaires Tax petition when it comes out in February.
Going to endless rallies to protest cuts to health care, education, and other public services can be depressing as it seems things just keep getting worse and the wrong people always seem to pay the price. Well now Californians have a chance to affect real change and put the Millionaires Tax on the ballot. If we pass it, it will be a real victory for the 99%.
Political insiders in back rooms in Sacramento don’t have the courage to give us this choice, but now we have the opportunity to frame the debate ourselves. Let’s do it.
For more information, go to The Millionaires Tax