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Wait … Californians actually voted to tax increase their own taxes?

Get outta here!

Like most Americans, California residents don’t look too kindly on the notion of raising taxes. In fact, voters have rejected statewide tax measures the last seven times they’ve been on the ballot!

So in many ways, it’s pretty miraculous that on Tuesday 54 percent of California’s electorate approved Proposition 30, which temporarily increases sales tax for everyone by a quarter cent and raises income taxes for those making over $250,000. The measure, which Governor Jerry Brown crafted and threw himself behind, is expected to raise about $6 billion a year and prevent massive cuts to the state’s already beleaguered public education system.

Here’s how it’ll affect you:

Brown staked much of his political reputation on winning what became a bitter, hard-fought, and incredibly pricey fight; both sides waged a relentless ad war, collectively spending more than $120 million.

“I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?” Brown told supporters at the victory party late Tuesday night. “Well here we are. We have a vote of the people – I think the only place in America where a state actually said, let’s raise our taxes for our kids, our schools, for our California dream.”

And he was right. In a state where voters haven’t approved a tax hike in almost three decades, the very real threat of huge cuts to education appears to have actually resonated with voters.

The consensus seemed to be: “Yes, taxes suck, but some things are just too important to lose.”

The temporary nature of the tax, also, likely made the measure more palatable to voters.

Interestingly, it was younger voters who turned out in force on Tuesday in support of the measure. Voters ages 18-29 – who Brown and his campaign targeted – made up almost 30 percent of the electorate and were critical in pushing the measure through.

What Prop. 30 Means For Your Taxes 11 June,2015Matthew Green

  • Etienne Christophe

    Basically, people not affected by the tax (other than to benefit from it) voted for it. This is how the country works now. I get to vote money out of someone else’s pocket. To say nothing of the fact that the state gets to spend the money on whatever it wants. This “school” and “education” tax is probably going to fund teacher pensions, to pay back all of the financial support the teacher’s union provided the Democratic party the past 40 years. Nothing changes in this state, it’s just the unions and democrats siphoning off money to pay each other.

    Brown’s “California Dream” is apparently everyone working for the government, voting democrat, and paying union dues. To his credit, he’s well on his way to making it come true.

    Well, I take it back. Brown will probably also spend some of the money paying for college for illegal immigrants. I wish that were a joke.

    • needtoknowbasis

      All your ridiculously mal-informed sentiments aside, this is part of living in a society (look up the word, you will be astounded at what the definition is). Everybody looking out for everybody else. We have great case studies for when there are no taxes and no real unification, it turned into a utopia just as you imagine it would. You know, Afghanistan.

    • No

      thanks for the speculation without any evidence cited. real productive comment.

    • SFjess

      Please explain how the voters ages 18-29 will be the ones to benefit from this? The money does not go to universities….

      I’m so tired of Republicans blathering on without any factual knowledge (“This “school” and “education” tax is probably going…”)

      The huge cuts that were coming were this Prop not passed would have been devastating to public education.

      Californians did the right thing.

      • Rmccarty4

        Actually, CSU and UC would each have taken an additional $500M whack if Prop 30 had failed. So the money does, in some part, go to universities.
        And it was STILL the right thing for Californians to vote for. Good job, Californians.

      • Tms247

        And funds go to community colleges as well

    • blackdiamond925

      Everyone will pay the sales tax. The sales tax, actually, since it’s regressive, will hurt the poor more than the wealthy, so the upper hit to the wealthy bracket as well.

    • meeow

      Sales taxes are known as regressive taxes because they affect everyone, and disproportionately affect those with the least the more. In other words, someone who can afford a $50,000+ item, can easily afford the taxes that go with it (because they make significantly more), while those that can barely afford food, or pencils, can’t afford sales taxes since they make significantly less.


      • Guest

        Correct. This was why this was a very unfair way to pay for the budget defecit. The small amount raised from the tiny number of people those making over $250,000 will be dwarfed by the massive amount raised from sales taxes on lower-income folks, of which there are a very large number in California, who can least afford it. My Bay Area county has now, with the county increase, also passed by the unprogressive wealthier residents of SM county, we of modest means will be paying almost 10% in sales taxes. And Bay Area residents have the gall to think they’re more “progressive” than the Midwest, most of which has far lower sales taxes .
        It would have been much more progressive to raise only income taxesm since lower income folks are exempt from these entirely.

    • Hwall

      I find it interesting/infuriating that conservatives say liberals want a free handout, when in fact it is they who do not want to pay/raise taxes in order to get basic services like education, clean water, roads or anything. Taxes is how we pay for the services that we all need (including education). If you don’t want to pay or raise taxes to fund a service, but still want it offered (I assume you are not proposing we shut down all schools in California) then that is asking for a free handout.

      Oh, and by the way, as to your comment that the only people who voted for it are those that benefit but don’t have to pay for it? I voted for it and I am one of the people whose household income puts us over the 250k mark. So not only will I be paying the sales tax, but will also be paying the income tax. I graduated school long ago and will not be personally benefiting. Although this will affect my family’s budget – we do well but are by no means wealthy – I will PROUDLY pay this extra tax, knowing that by funding our state’s education we are improving the quality of life for children and the state in general. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      • Ygbailey007

        I am a 68 year old senior and I would love to retire. I can tell you that paying an additional tax for the dems to pay each other off and for the unions to enjoy their pensions is not bringing my reirement any closer. I just love that the young whose bodies are strong and able to work can now sit back and have the senior citizens give them a free ride. I also love that your family can enjoy the luxury of making the $250 plus a year, not all of us are there. So many seniors are baley making it and now we have this retro tax to pay becasue of thoughtless people like you. Shame on You!

    • Doritmi

      Well, I am one of the people who will be paying higher income taxes,.and I voted for it; nobody else is reaching into my pocket: I’m clever enough to know that it’s a good idea – for everyone – to keep supporting public education. It moves society forward: better educated citizens can increase the pie for all of us. Further, since this includes raising the sales tax it does actually affect everyone – and it probably affects the poor more, since sales tax is regressive. I think you’re just wrong.

      • Montever

        Me as well. I voted to pay higher taxes and I am not in the 18-29 demographic. Dismissing the issue in the manner of a slogan “tax and spend; those who don’t make money vote to tax and spend” is something that this election repudiated. The Right has learned nothing from these defeats handed them and instead still want to resort to slogans and low-brow stereotypes to defend their position. San Francisco State University has been reduced to the barest bones. We have no lecturer dollars left, we can’t replace retiring faculty, we have do not have a travel budget for conference presentations to speak of. Yet we have people like Gougle Calendar pontificating about tax and spend.

  • Montever

    I’m afraid that the national results of this election were lost on our friend Gougle Calendar below. What the results showed is that the electorate wants bipartisan bickering to end. Saying “my way or the highway: no new taxes” is an example of the kind of demagoguery and dogmatic preachiness from the extreme Right Wing Tea Party politicians that stymied bipartisan participation in problem solving. Six of those people were unseated. The solution comes from a join of increased tax revenue and decreased spending. By the way, it’s ludicrous for Gougle below to suggest that the moderate tax increases asked of the wealthiest of Californians are a plot to fund unions and pensions. I am at the university right now, and that money goes to fund General Funding of academic programs which have been slashed and burned thanks to the Republican posturing. And now look what it’s got you, Gougle. It’s gotten you a super majority of Democrats in both houses because people were sick of the dogmatic stand of “no bargaining” by the Republicans scared witless by the Tea Party right.

  • “Interestingly, it was younger voters who turned out in force on Tuesday in support of the measure. Voters ages 18-29 – who Brown and his campaign targeted – made up almost 30 percent of the electorate and were critical in pushing the measure through.”

    I wonder how many of these people have an effective tax rate of zero? Guess it won’t hurt them so much to raise the rest of our taxes.

    If the legislature did the job they are constitutionally required to, instead of terrorizing the public with the immenent failure of key government services due to their inability to control spending/revenue, we wouldn’t have young people (many who still live at home with their parents) DIRECTLY deciding how much my taxes are going to be.

    I can’t vote them out of office. 🙁

    • Interestingly

      Interestingly some of CA’s wealthiest areas, including Marin County, San Mateo and Santa Barbara counties, voted Yes on 30. The first two by wider margins than many “47%” counties.

  • Americorpsvista

    For the record:
    Young people pay taxes too. So it comes out of all of our pockets. And equal access to affordable, high-quality education is a common good. Do you want a well-educated workforce? Do you want the next generation to be willing and able to create intelligent policies and lead our nation? Then you have to pay for it.

  • Tempero

    yes , its very touching to see people believing in tax increase for education as long as someone else is paying for it which is why Prop 38 was defeated of course – The impotent media was hand in glove in this farce with no “real” analysis or coverage on this issue. Lazy journalism at its best..In the end we will all pay for this corruption.

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Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @MGreenKQED

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