California teachers begin push for ballot measure to raise taxes on wealthiest 1 percent

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Mike Roe/KPCC

Hundreds of teachers gather in downtown Los Angeles' Pershing Square on Friday, May 13, 2011 as part of a statewide campaign to rally against cuts in education funding.

The taxes Gov. Jerry Brown pushed so hard to extend have expired. The extension of the income, sales and car taxes were never that popular with voters. Some California teachers are pushing for one tax that does win support in polls. The tax would levy 1 percent from the wealthiest 1 percent.

Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, says it's only fair to bump up taxes from the top 1 percent of earners in California. He adds that it could bring in more than $2 billion a year – for schools, parks and health care.

“Frankly the top 1 percent in this state, they’ve been doing very, very well over the last many years, and it’s time that they paid their fare share," says Pechthalt. "Especially, when education and vital services are being cut and the rest of us, the other 99 percent are suffering as a result of the state’s inability to raise enough revenues.”

Polls indicate that a lot of voters may approve of raising taxes on the richest 1 percent. The Public Policy Institute of California says it's the only tax idea that won support in a recent survey; the approval rate was 68 percent.

So the California Federation of Teachers plans a ballot initiative on the issue for the November 2012 election. Republicans equate increasing taxes on the very wealthy with squelching jobs.

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