Californian voters may get chance to tax rich


Perhaps the Occupy movement is having an effect on public opinion. A tax on high-wage earners is popular, creating a flurry of signature gathering drives.

Protestors representing the poor, disabled, and elderly expressed anger and frustration at the Capitol Steps for yet another round of deep budget cuts.

"I'm mad. I'm foaming at the mouth mad!" said Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Gunn-Cushman's subsidized medical coverage and in-home care are being reduced and she asks why wealthier Californians are unaffected.

"I've heard so much, 'share the burden.' Well, we've been taking the whole burden and they're not taking any," said Gunn-Cushman.

New polling out by the California Federation of Teachers found overwhelming support, 67 percent, for a higher tax when it hits anyone making $1 million or more, in order to restore education and other services.

"For every $1 made over $1 million, the millionaires provide three cents, and for every $1 over $2 million, they provide for two more cents out of that dollar," said Jeffery Freitas from the California Federation of Teachers. "We need to refund and provide the money for the priorities of Californians."

Capitalizing on the electorate's mood, there's now a race to the November 2012 election to get a tax measure on the ballot.

In addition to a half-percent sales tax, Gov. Jerry Brown's plan taxes higher earners for five years for anything over $250,000, typical Californians would fork over another $123 a year.

Our Children/Our Future raises taxes on all income levels, but the poorest, hitting a typical taxpayer an additional $222 a year.

The Think Long Committee wants to extend the statewide sales tax to services, which would take another $288 a year from an average consumer. And the average Californian would not pay anymore under the CFT's millionaire tax measure, which is working with a coalition called Restore California.

"So you keep attacking the people that have businesses, that's not going to help employment," said Bert Williamson, a tax opponent.

Brown hopes only one or two measures make it to the ballot. Californians last approved a millionaire's tax in 2004 -- 1 percent to help fund mental health services.

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