As Democratic state leaders continue budget negotiations, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike on sales and upper-income earners officially qualified Wednesday for the November ballot, as did two other tax measures.
Brown's tax initiative will be joined by a rival measure to hike income taxes on all but the poorest Californians as well as an initiative to raise taxes on multistate corporations based elsewhere, the Secretary of State's Office announced. A total of 11 measures, including a water bond, are now on the November ballot.
Brown and lawmakers are counting on voters to pass his tax plan to generate an estimated $8.5 billion in the current budget cycle, which provides additional funding for schools and helps bridge the state's $15.7 billion deficit. Though state leaders considered its qualification a foregone conclusion, some political experts began to wonder whether it could miss the June 28 deadline to reach the November ballot as the date drew closer.
The Brown initiative would raise sales taxes by a quarter-cent on the dollar. It would also hike income taxes starting at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers.
A rival measure filed by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger would raise taxes along a sliding scale starting at $7,316 in taxable income for single filers and $14,632 for joint filers. Her initiative would raise about $10 billion annually, mostly for schools and early childhood programs, but with some initial funding to help relieve the state budget by about $3 billion.
The third tax measure to qualify Wednesday involves changing the state's corporate tax formula by forcing most companies to calculate their liability based on their share of sales in California. A recent law change allowed companies last year to choose the less expensive of two tax formulas. The proposal by hedge fund manager Tom Steyer would generate about $1 billion extra each year, initially split between the state budget and green energy projects before going entirely to the general fund in 2018-19.