Release of the May budget revision brought back debate over the state’s high speed rail proposal but, the good news budget should have squelched talk of more taxes – call it the tax train—from chugging along. It hasn’t.
With the improved economy, Governor Jerry Brown will boast that his plan for Proposition 30 is working. At the time the measure was put on the ballot, Brown said he wanted to pass temporary taxes to help the government manage through the tough times until the economy rebounded. When the economy came back, the revenue necessary to run the government would be in place and the temporary taxes could fade away.
Last week, the governor announced the state would bring in $2.4 billion more than his office thought would come when his initial budget was proposed in January.
No sooner had the dust cleared on the governor’s budget pronouncement then the Legislative Analyst declared that there would be an additional $2.5 billion that the governor hadn’t accounted for. The Analyst said most of this new money would be marked for school funding.
That, too, would seem to fall into place with the governor’s Prop 30 promise. He said the additional tax money would be for schools.
Property taxes are projected to increase relieving some of the state’s burden for backfilling local taxes. Unemployment, although still high, has improved to a new six year low, meaning an increase in government revenue.
So the job is done – no need for more taxes.
Not according to some influential Democratic politicians.
As Johnny Cash would say: “I hear that train a comin’, it’s rolling around the bend.”
They want to spend more than the governor for health and welfare programs as well as to create new programs like Pre-K. Some legislators have warned that the governor’s call for frugality won’t have the same resonance this year as last because of the additional revenues.
Already Senator Mark Leno and state School Superintendent Tom Torlakson have said the Prop 30 taxes should not expire. (Not to mention that there are organized efforts to raise taxes on business property and oil extracted from the ground.)
Will Brown fight to keep his pledge to make the Prop 30 taxes temporary, given that the plan he laid out at the time of the election seems to be playing out?
Yes – for now.
However, when asked about continuing the temporary taxes when they are set to expire, he responded, “I will be 80 then.”
Translation: It won’t be my problem.
And the tax train whistle continues to blow.