Ken Leighton 7:59 a.m., May 22
Opponents of Proposition 30, led by Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters and Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, gathered this afternoon at Tuna Harbor Park near the USS Midway museum to make their case against the measure.
Prop 30 is a combination of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed sales tax hike and another proposal to raise income tax rates on high-earning Californians dubbed the “millionaire’s tax.” It would raise sales taxes statewide by 0.25% and income taxes on those making over $250,000 annually to 10.3%, to 11.3% on taxable incomes over $300,000, to 12.3% on incomes over $500,000, and 13.3% on incomes over $1 million. Currently tax rates are 9.3% on taxable income over $250,000 and 10.3% on incomes over $1 million – two new intermediate tax brackets would be introduced if the measure passes.
The measure is being promoted largely as a way to provide a stopgap for cuts in education funding, with 89% of new revenues being directed to K-12 education and 11% to community colleges and the state university systems. But detractors say the language of the proposition doesn’t guarantee new funding will be spent on education, a point conceded in part by proponents, who made up about half of the dozen or so spectators that gathered to watch the afternoon’s speakers.
“This is not about the children,” said Rider of the initiative. “This is about maintenance of the status quo, and an attempt to kick the can down the road so that the public employees do not have to face reforms.”
Paola, a San Diego City College student, was one of the counter-demonstrators.
“It’s for education and other emergency services,” she said on her understanding of the measure. “We know that it’s not all going to go into education, but some of it will.”
Paola said that she had been told to expect an additional 800 classes to be removed from the curriculum should Prop 30 fail. The San Diego Community College District has already seen fee hikes and a significant reduction in available courses over the recent years, including a near-total elimination of summer school curriculum.
Rider, meanwhile, went on to bemoan the fact that the hike of 3% of taxable income on those making over $500,000 amounted to an effective 32% overall increase, and that the same rate increase imposed on those making over $1 million would amount to a 29% spike. “This is not nickel-and-dime stuff,” said Rider, noting that if passed income taxes on wealthy Californians would be the highest in the nation and a third higher than in “uber-liberal Oregon,” currently the state with the third-highest income tax rate (and no attendant sales tax). “It’s time to say ‘no mas,’” intoned Rider.
Coupal used his speech to warn citizens about the potential for “capital dislocation,” or the possibility that companies or wealthy Californians might choose to relocate rather than pay a higher tax rate. He said there were 254 documented cases of such activity in 2011, even before the current proposal was approved for the ballot.
“So called ‘trigger cuts’ [are] really the most deceptive part of the whole Yes on 30 campaign,” Coupal continued. “The trigger cuts are not a function of Proposition 30, they are a function of what the governor and the legislature have already done.”
Coupal also acknowledged the handful of Prop 30 proponents that had gathered. “Notice the apple [on supporters’ signs]? That’s supposed to convey that this is for schools . . . that’s so absolutely false. I hope that someday you’ll realize how badly you’re being used as a tool by the current political structure.”