Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Apr. 15, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 15, 2012 – 8:33 am

Over the coming months of gestation about taxation, California voters will be inundated with claims, counterclaims and other forms of propaganda.

We still don’t know how many major tax proposals will be on the November ballot. It’ll be at least one, but whether it’s the one that Jerry Brown, other Democratic politicians and labor unions want, or the one that civil rights attorney Molly Munger and the PTA want, is still unknown.

Most likely, it’ll be both.

Brown, having merged his original tax proposal with one pushed by a left-wing coalition, now wants to hike sales taxes by a quarter-cent and raise marginal tax rates on those with high incomes. Munger would raise income taxes on everyone except the very poor, but hit those at the top the hardest.

Both, it’s said, would raise in the vicinity of $9 billion-plus a year, Brown’s to narrow the state’s budget deficit and Munger’s going all to schools.

The revenue numbers, however, are more than a bit squirrelly because it’s really impossible to accurately estimate capital gains and other non-salary incomes of those in the upper brackets. The Legislature’s budget analyst, in fact, says that Brown’s numbers are too high.

Nevertheless, let’s assume that voters opt to raise state taxes somewhere between $9 billion and $10 billion a year. It’s important to place that number in context because campaign propaganda pro and con will certainly distort it.

A $9 billion pop would be less than a 6 percent increase in the level of state and local taxation, now about $160 billion a year. The increase would also be less than one-half of one percent of California’s economic output.

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