By Jon Coupal – January 21, 2024
Daily news reports on the great “California Exodus” are not just from conservative outlets. Left-leaning publications such as the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle have recently reported on the outmigration of upper-income citizens who, even if not billionaires, still generate a lot of income tax revenue.
This past week the California Legislature held a hearing on Assembly Bill 259 which would lay the foundation for the imposition of a wealth tax. The companion legislation to AB 259 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would, among other things, effectively sweep away Proposition 13’s limits on taxing property.
Fortunately, the idea that California would be the first in the nation to impose a highly unpopular wealth tax is so radical that the proposal was rejected by Democrats as well as Republicans on the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. It didn’t take long for the Democrat chair of the committee to shuffle the bill to the “suspense” file where bad legislation goes to die.
Coincidentally, the wealth tax hearing occurred on the same day that Gov. Newsom released his proposed budget. Things got a little sparky during the presentation with Newsom pushing hard against the Legislative Analyst’s figure of a $68 billion deficit. Newsom contends that the deficit is “only” $38 billion. (But hey, what’s a $30 billion difference between friends).
Newsom saved his most animated criticism for those who highlight the state’s shortcomings, including the significant outmigration of California’s most productive citizens. He especially targeted the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which has never been reticent about commenting on the state’s well-deserved reputation for anti-business bias.
But to his credit, Newsom rejected the notion of a wealth tax – at least for now. For taxpayers, it matters little whether the governor’s stance is motivated by politics or a sincere policy position. Either way, we’ll take it.
Jon Coupal is President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association