Oct 15, 2012
In California, both Governor Jerry Brown and the heads of the big unions have been pushing Proposition 30 on the November ballot. Prop 30 increases the state sales tax from 6.25% to 6.50%. Brown is threatening that unless Prop 30 is passed, funding for public education and colleges will be slashed.
Over the decades, the sales tax has increased steadily. It was 3% in 1967. By 1991, it had doubled to 6%. In 2004, officials raised it again to 6.25%. And every time, we heard it was needed for the schools or public services.
But increasing the sales tax did not stop cuts. On the contrary, over the last three decades, education spending plunged from 4% to 3.2% of the state’s economy, according to the California Budget Project.
Instead, state officials used the extra money to cut the taxes of the biggest corporations by more than half. Today, giant companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum have poured millions of dollars into support of Prop 30. Obviously, just like in the past, they stand to benefit from any further increase in the sales tax.
Sure, Governor Brown and the union officials say that Prop 30 will also increase income taxes for the very wealthiest. But what they don’t say is that two decades ago, the politicians had slashed the income taxes of the wealthy, saving them a total of 100 billion dollars. Obviously, the small increases in state income taxes proposed under Prop 30 don’t come close to making up for what the wealthy didn’t pay before.
Only working people and the poor are burdened by an even higher sales tax, since it takes a significantly bigger bite out of their already low income.
No, all Prop 30 does is offer a choice between higher taxes or even more budget cuts for public education – which is no choice at all for working people and the poor.
The money is there to pay for public education. But working people are going to have to fight to make big business and the wealthy pay for it.