Venice Beach, California
Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California today, celebrating the arrival of Harry Potter.
California fiscal conservatives file spending-cap proposal
A day after Gov. Jerry Brown asked voters for $7 billion in additional taxes, a trio of fiscal conservatives said Tuesday they filed a ballot initiative to cap state spending.
The proposal would reconfigure the Gann Limit, a 1979 spending restriction established on the heels of tax-limiting Proposition 13. Voters later softened the limit, and the state is now $17 billion below the spending cap.
The California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Small Business Action Committee want to reset the Gann Limit at the 2010-11 spending level. They would limit spending based on a formula driven generally by population and inflation growth.
In years where tax revenues are greater than the limit, the state would first have to pay down debt and then divide up to $2 billion between schools and a rainy-day fund. If money is left over, the state would return funds to taxpayers.
The proposal could potentially blunt any tax increase that voters may pass in the same November 2012 election. For instance, if voters pass Brown’s $7 billion tax hike on sales and the wealthy and they also approve this spending cap, the state may be required to devote most of that money toward long-term debt repayment rather than the state’s fiscal-year deficit.
In what he called an end-run around Sacramento’s partisan gridlock, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday unveiled his bid to raise taxes on high earners and boost the sales tax by a half-cent for the next five years.
Brown wants to increase income taxes by 1% to 2% for individuals making $250,000 or more, in addition to the sales-tax hike, and hopes to qualify the proposal for next November’s ballot. The new revenue — up to $6.8 billion per year for the five years, according to administration estimates — would be used to fund public schools and guarantee money for counties to house more inmates in local jails instead of in state prisons.
The governor announced the proposal, which he called “straightforward and fair,” in a press release, an email to supporters and a Twitter post Monday.
California is still growing, adding just over a quarter-million people during the year that ended June 30, according to the state’s annual population survey, but is not attracting immigrants from other states and nations as it once did.
In fact, the state Department of Finance’s demographers concluded, the state had a net outmigration of 22,000 persons during the year – 132,000 immigrants from other countries minus 154,000 Californians who moved out. Or to put it another way, births (511,000) and deaths (228,000) accounted for all of the state’s net population growth of 260,000.
In numerical terms, that’s less than half of what the state experienced during the 1980s, but it still means that California, with an estimated 37.6 million people as of July 1, is likely to approach 40 million by 2020.
California’s direct democracy system got “The Daily Show” treatment last night, as the satirical news show aired a segment sparked by the now-fizzled ballot battle over the so-called “Amazon Tax.”
The segment on the initiative and referendum process includes interviews on two of the most colorful characters on today’s state political scene — GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, and California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.
Enjoy your afternoon and evening!