Gov. Gavin Newsom must stick to his word and continue to oppose higher taxes

Gov. Gavin Newsom threw cold water on calls for new taxes in light of the state’s massive budget deficit.

“I’m not prepared to increase taxes,” he said on Friday while unveiling his May Revise to the state budget. “We have among the highest tax rates in the United States of America for high wage earners. We have among the highest tax rates, as I noted, for corporate tax rates … I feel strongly that we have to live within our means, within the framework of being more efficient and more effective.”

Newsom has maintained this posture in recent years. Earlier this year he spoke out against a proposed wealth tax by Assemblyman Alex Lee, D-San Jose. Newsom likely learned his lesson after throwing his support behind Proposition 15 late in the game in 2020. Prop. 15 was the union-backed proposal to gut Proposition 13 by creating a split roll property tax system so the state could collect billions more from commercial and industrial properties. Newsom waited until September 2020 to back the measure, calling it a “a fair, phased-in and long-overdue reform to state tax policy.”

Even then, he maintained a stance against raising income taxes, saying “now is not the time for the kind of state tax increases on income we saw proposed at the end of this legislative session and I will not sign such proposals into law.”

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Proposition 15 went down in flames, with 52% of voters in an ideal year for Democratic turnout rejecting the tax hike scheme.

The very narrow passage of Proposition 1 in March  of this also no doubt signaled to Newsom that voters aren’t exactly trustful of new government money grabs.

Recent polling by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California confirms that Californians are in an anti-tax mood, with 56% of likely voters saying they would vote down a parcel tax to boost funding for their local public schools. Identical polling in 2016 and 2017 found that a majority of Californians supported such an idea, so the trend has clearly shifted.

Newsom should use his final years in office to modernize and streamline state government. There’s no need to tax overtaxed California residents and businesses more. Especially not with the subpar performance of the government we currently have.

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