Explaining Southern California's economy

Brown budget makes case for California tax increases

Jerry Brown Introduces January California Budget

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California Gov. Jerry Brown revealed his 2012 budget today — earlier than his office had planned, due to an error or technical glitch that caused the budget to be posted prematurely on the Department of Finance's website.

The budget doesn't really sugar-coat the challenges that the state faces, although as the L.A. Times points out, the deficit situation has improved greatly:

[The budget] paints a better fiscal picture than just a year ago, when the state faced a $26-billion deficit. Brown's budget anticipates closing the current gap through a combination of spending cuts and the tax increases, which would kick in at year's end, providing $4.4 billion in revenue.

Ah, the tax increases. Brown laid them out back in December, when he published an open letter on the governor's website. I posted on the plan at the time:

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Jerry Brown's tax proposals: Will they solve California's problems?

California Governor Jerry Brown Unveils State Pension Reform Program

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown laid out his tax proposals for California voters in an open letter at the governor's office website. Brown wants to go straight to the voters, via the ballot initiative process. The plan is fairly simple:

My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education. Here are the details: 

• Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase. 

• There will be a temporary ½ cent increase in the sales tax. Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.

• This initiative dedicates funding only to education and public safety—not on other programs that we simply cannot afford. 

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Supercommittee Fail: You didn't seen this coming?

So, you might have heard by now that the Congressional "Supercommittee," a bipartisan effort to overcome partisan gridlock, has succumbed to...partisan gridlock.

This is from USA Today:

Republicans refused to cross their ideological line against increasing taxes. Democrats refused to allow cuts in popular programs that serve the elderly and poor without a compensating growth of government income, especially from the wealthiest Americans.

No one really knew what the Supercommittee was doing, anyway, so the sham of its negotiations — which looked as if they would have high sham potential from the git-go — ended in #EPICFAIL shouldn't shock anyone. But the USA Today report is admirable for starkly stating the core difference between the two sides. 

That said, it's easy to cast the Democrats as pro-tax, in the interest of being pro-poor and pro-old folks, while saying that the Republicans wouldn't raise taxes if the future of the, um...republic depended on it.

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