You see them hovering in the supermarket parking lots or on street corners. As they approach, you know they are going to be asking about money.
This time you really need to support them. But don't give them money! You need to sign their petitions by April 20... to get the Millionaires Tax on the ballot in California. And if you are not lucky enough to live in California and don't already have such a tax, please contact us. We can help!
Why sign petitions for this tax? Didn't Governor Jerry Brown advance his own tax measure aimed at more equitable revenue raising?
Well... sort of. The tale of two tax proposals provides a clear contrast. Brown's measure proposes to raise between 4.8 and 6.9 billion dollars by temporarily increasing the state sales tax by half a cent and raising taxes on those who earn over $250,000 annually. At the same time, the governor would amend state law to shift local government's responsibility to include raising revenue and paying for prisons and other state services. So Brown's bill would help fund public schools, police departments, social services and prisons. But its dependence on regressive sales taxes would cost the average tax payer $123 and disappear after 2016.
Brown takes a half step in the right direction. But other states should not emulate it. Instead Californians and others should support a proposal which advances real change -- The Millionaires Tax.
The Millionaires Tax is aimed at those who have profited the most from the benefits offered by our society, underwritten disproportionately by the rest of us, including our roads, hospitals, schools, universities and courts which provide the structure supporting the millionaires business and production.
Historically, marginal tax rates have been as high as 91 percent under President Eisenhower, taxing incomes over $400,000. Reagan in his first term reduced the marginal tax rate from 69 percent to 50 percent. Currently this marginal rate, on incomes over $380,000, has been reduced to 35 percent. But as taxes on the rich and famous from Warren Buffet to Mitt Romney illustrate, the wealthy, through loopholes and creative accounting, are able to effectively reduce these intended rates of 35 percent to 14 percent, while the average citizens pay vastly higher percentages.
The revenues which would be raised are estimated at 6 to 9.5 billion dollars, far more than Governor Brown's proposal. These funds would be held strictly accountable under separate audit, by passing Sacramento, flowing directly to local school districts and county government. They would be apportioned as follows: 36 percent to schooling from kindergarten through grade 12; 24 percent to public colleges and universities; 25 percent to children's and senior services; 10 percent to public safety and 5 percent to road and bridge maintenance.
Beside the Brown proposal and The Millionaires Tax, civil rights attorney Molly Munger has proposed an initiative titled Our Children, Our Future. She proposes to raise funds exclusively for early childhood programs and kindergarten through high school education by raising personal income taxes on all Californians earning in excess of $7,316 annually. This proposal would sunset after the year 2024. Although it has achieved some support, Munger's initiative trails The Millionaires Tax and the Brown proposal.
Independent polling done in January shows Munger's initiative supported by 51 percent, the Brown Proposal by 62 percent and The Millionaires Tax by 70 percent. Harry and Carol Brill, retired educators collecting signatures to qualify the Millionaires Tax for the ballot found out about this popularity first hand. While outside their local market collecting signatures last week, they were beseiged by voters eager to sign qualifying petitions. As one of the signers, who confessed to being a millionaire, said "Its the least that I can do!"