- Ballot Measures
- Public Opinion
As the November 2012 election approaches, California’s voter are considering two potentially competing initiatives that would raise taxes to continue financing state-run institutions such as education and safety services. This winter, the three leading tax plans were those proposed by Governor Brown, the California Federation of Teachers, and Civil Rights Attorney Molly Munger. The CFT’s tax plan, colloquially referred to as the “Millionaire’s Tax” increases taxes for those with incomes higher than $1 million, with the increased revenue channeled directly into funding educational, social and public safety services. Governor Brown’s plan calls for temporary increases in state income taxes to those with incomes over $250,000, coupled with a one-half cent increase in the state sales tax to fund education. Finally, Molly Munger’s plan calls for a broader increase in state income taxes.
As reported by a Field Poll published on February 24th, it looked as if voters were prepared to back the CFT in their “Millionaire’s Tax,” as the poll reported a 63% approval rating. In addition, Governor Brown’s plan also saw an approval rating of 58%, while Munger’s plan fell below a majority consensus with 45% approval. Shortly afterward, the Governor and the CFT agreed to combine forces on a tax plan that combined elements of both proposals. As of the early May, the Governor and Molly Munger were negotiating a possible compromise as well.
What does polling tells us about Californians’ sentiments towards tax increases? The numbers readily show that the majority of Californians want to tax the rich. They aim to solve the state’s financial troubles by deriving funds from those wealthier than the majority. As the Field Poll’s report shows, the majority of Californians do not sympathize with the wealthy. They reject Munger’s plan outright, and were less willing to support Brown’s original, slightly more moderate distribution of taxes than the CFT’s tax increase solely for the richest Californians. The jockeying between competing plans in advance of the November election, and that election’s results, will show just how much the populist sentiment displayed in the Occupy Movement will drive broad voting behavior.