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Voters Approve Governor’s Tax Measure

Legislative Democrats Secure Supermajority Authority

November 7, 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown held a press conference this morning to discuss election results, in particular the passage of his tax measure, Proposition 30.


Prop. 30 increases the state sales tax by one-quarter percent for four years and increases personal income taxes on income earned by single-filers earning $250,000, joint-filers earning $500,000, and heads-of-household earning $340,000 for seven years. The measure also provides constitutional protection for state funding for realignment and makes other changes. A copy of a recent League analysis on Prop. 30 has been posted to the League’s website.

After thanking the voters for their support for the measure, the Governor said that the revenue would put the state on a “glide path” to improved fiscal stability. He added that the voters had entrusted him with the additional revenue authority and that the state had an obligation to meet that trust and avoid new “spending binges.”

Legislative Democrats Secure Supermajority

In 2010, with Prop. 25, legislative Democrats secured the authority to approve state budgets with a simple majority.  This change drastically reduced the leverage that Republican legislators previously had under the two-thirds vote requirement. What Democrats lacked, however, was the ability to approve tax increases which still required a two-thirds vote. 

Vast powers come with the two-thirds vote authority — raising taxes, repealing tax breaks, passing urgency legislation, overriding a veto — are some of the powers now in the hands of Democrat legislators.

Results from some of California’s closest races are still being counted. The effects of the top-two primary process were evident as members of the same party were pitted against each other, in particular in Assembly Districts 10, 18 and 50, which were too close to call this morning. Provisional and absentee ballots will play a crucial role in deciding those races.

Other close races include a Central Valley race where Democrat Rudy Salas in leading by a mere 300 votes over Republican Pedro Rios. The surprise upset of incumbent Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) by Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva appears to have been the tipping point for Democrats in the Assembly.

Notwithstanding outstanding provisional and absentee ballots, it appears that Democrats have won the needed seats to create supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

Governor’s Perspective on Future Tax Increases

The Governor was questioned by reporters about what he would do if legislators put additional tax increase proposals on his desk. 

Calling the passage of Prop. 30 a “vote of confidence” the Governor vowed that he would not raise taxes through a two-thirds majority but rather would continue to put all proposed tax increases up for a vote. When pushed on the possibility that Democrats would use its new supermajority to push more taxes, the Governor said “with greater power comes greater responsibility.”

Ballot Measures

The results of the state’s proposed ballot measures have been posted on the Secretary of State’s website

Measures Passed:

Prop. 30 (Governor’s Tax Measure)
Prop. 35 (Increasing Penalties for Human Trafficking)
Prop. 36 (Revising Three Strikes Law)
Prop. 39 (Repealing Business Tax Exemption: Budget and Energy Funding)
Prop. 40 (Confirming Redistricting for State Senate)

Measures Failed:

Prop. 31 (California Forward’s Proposed Reforms)
Prop. 32 (Prohibiting Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction)
Prop. 33 (Auto Insurance Prices Based on Driver History)
Prop. 34 (Repealing Death Penalty)
Prop. 37 (Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling)
Prop. 38 (Tax Increase for Education, Early Childhood Programs)

The failure of Prop. 34 (Oppose) and passage of Prop. 35 (Support) were consistent with the League’s positions. During its Annual Conference in San Diego in September the League’s board of directors also reviewed, but took no position on, Props. 30, 31 or 36. No other propositions were considered for positions by the League.

While the League ultimately took no position on Prop. 31, the Government Performance and Accountability Act sponsored by California Forward, it was a hot topic throughout the year and heavily debated in multiple policy committees.

Full election results can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.

Next Steps

Newly elected legislators will be in Sacramento the next two weeks for orientation and will return in early December to elect leadership, adopt rules and organize their respective houses for the 2013-14 session. The 2013-14 session will begin in January.

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