The Riverside County Board of Supervisors — with two members abstaining — voted today to oppose Proposition 30, an initiative introduced by Gov. Jerry Brown to hike sales and income taxes to support deficit reduction and state programs.
Supervisor Jeff Stone asked for board discussion on the matter. He and Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione voted to oppose the proposition, while Supervisors Bob Buster and John Benoit declined to take a position publicly.
The California State Association of Counties has thrown its support behind the measure, but other groups, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association and the Small Business Action Committee, are urging voters to cast ballots against it.
The board has talked about both propositions 30 and 38 — the latter is another tax hike proposal — though mainly in the context of the county budget, without any unified board endorsement or rejection of either one.
Prop. 30 calls for a quarter-cent, or 3 percent, increase in sales taxes on all transactions and elevated personal state income tax rates for residents earning more than $250,000 a year.
The sales tax hike would be in effect until the end of 2016, while the higher income tax rates would expire in 2019. The governor has characterized the increases as “temporary.”
For individual earners with gross annual incomes between $250,000 and $300,000, tax rates would rise 1 percent; those with incomes between $300,000 and $500,000 would have to pay 2 percent more; and those earning more than $500,000 would shoulder a 3 percent increase in what they pay in state taxes.
According to the Office of the Legislative Analyst, the higher sales and income tax burdens would net the state an additional $6 billion annually. The income tax hikes would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.
Proponents argue the money is needed to help close California’s $16 billion deficit and maintain the current level of funding for K-14 education and the University of California system. Without the hikes, they say, nearly $6 billion in cuts to education and other state programs will be necessary.
Prop. 30 includes a provision guaranteeing that so-called “realignment” funding will be available to counties in the coming years.
Realignment involved shifting many state responsibilities onto localities beginning last October.
For instance, counties are now responsible for supervising many paroled felons and prosecuting them for violations. Convicts who fall into various “non-violent” categories also now serve their time in county jails instead of prisons, sometimes for years.
The Legislature implemented realignment without promising to make good on future obligations associated with counties taking over state functions.
According to Prop. 30, some of the revenue generated from the higher tax rates would cover those costs.
But in campaign literature, opponents note that there is no specified formula regarding how the new revenue will be disbursed.
“It gives Sacramento politicians a blank check without requiring budget, pension or education reform,” opponents wrote in the official voter information guide.