Prop. 30, a measure to increase taxes and stave off nearly $6 billion in education cuts, appeared to be headed for passage as election results trickled in early Wednesday.
The measure received support from 53 percent of voters with 72 percent of statewide precincts reporting and less than half of L.A. County's votes counted. The passage marked the end of a last minute frenzy by Gov. Jerry Brown and supporters to reverse dropping poll numbers.
Prop. 30 will increase personal income tax for seven years on Californians earning more than $250,000. It would be implemented retroactively, starting Jan. 1, 2012. Those earning between $250,000 and $300,000 will pay 1 percent more. People making between $300,000 and $500,000 will pay 2 percent more and people making more than $500,000 will pay 3 percent more in taxes.
Sales tax will rise by 1/4 of a cent for four years starting in 2013. That's roughly one cent on a $4 latte or 25 cents on $100.
This was the first time since 2004 that California voters approved a tax increase on a statewide proposition. The last increase passed by voters was Prop. 63: Income Tax Increase for Mental Services, which created a 1 percent tax increase on people earning above $1 million annually to fund mental health services.
Prop. 30 returns showed Californians on the coast and especially in the Bay Area voting in favor of the measure. In Southern California, L.A. County was isolated in its support for the measure, with all the surrounding counties voting against the tax increase.
Voter turnout numbers aren't out yet, but this was the first year Californians could register online and Prop. 30 supporters held multiple campaigns to increase registration and turnout among young people.
The California State Student Assn. said it was able to register more than 31,000 new voters as part of a voter registration drive.
For many, the impact of Prop. 30 not passing, and the possibility of roughly $6 billion in cuts, would have hit them directly. UC and CSU warned of tuition hikes; California Community Colleges have already cut course offerings and enrollment. K-12 officials said they could lose up to three weeks of school if the measure didn't pass; districts across the state prepared contingency plans.
Orange County, traditionally a primarily Republican, anti-tax area, had 61 percent of its votes against Prop. 30. But Marin County, one of the wealthiest in the state, supported Prop. 30 with a 68 percent yes vote.
Some worried that Prop. 30 would not pass because of a dueling ballot measure, Prop. 38, supported by civil rights attorney Molly Munger. She poured tens of millions of dollars into the campaign, at one point funding an anti-Prop. 30 ad. Her measure, however, failed with roughly 75 percent voting against it.
Educators say Prop. 30's passage doesn't mean schools won't experience tight budgets this year or avoid cuts, but it should provide growing revenue — roughly $8.5 billion in its first year, and about $6 billion in the following years — to fund schools, pay down IOUs to districts, and help balance the state budget.