Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Californians Love To Raise Their Own Taxes. Really.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Here are the two people who will face off in November. Meg Whitmas will take on Jerry Brown.

    In their victory speeches after winning their parties' nominations Tuesday night, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman each talked up the virtues of cutting government spending and expressed opposition to tax increases.

    California voters seem to disagree. Don't believe it? Just look at how Californians voted in this election.

    Across the state, Californians had the opportunity to raise taxes or pass bonds for schools and other local government services via 60 different local measures on various ballots.  Californians approved 44 such tax or borrowing measures, according to data from California City Finance.

    The voters' verdict in favor of higher taxes for local services is even clearer when one notes that most of those local measures required supermajority approvals -- 55 percent for school bonds; two-thirds for local taxes -- to win. Of the 47 local measures that needed supermajorities to pass, 33 were approved.

    What does this mean? It suggests that when voters know where their money is going to go, and they value the government services, they will vote to raise their own taxes.

    This dynamic isn't new. Nearly two-thirds of these sorts of local measures have passed in the last decade, according to the California City Finance data.

    It also suggests that Jerry Brown's anti-tax caveat -- he won't raise taxes unless voters approve -- is an important one. If the tax package presented to voters seems reasonable, a Gov. Brown may find Californians very receptive.