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By Mike Licht
SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people packed the state capital, Sacramento, to celebrate the first anniversary of their ballot measure to raise taxes on the wealthy, an initiative that critics say has been used to pad the governor’s campaign coffers without broad public support.
California’s tax rate on income between $150,000 and $1 million a year will rise to 13.5 percent on January 1, 2017, from 10.25 percent now. Voters are being asked by voters in November to raise the income tax levy by one percentage point and to add a 3 percent surtax on the top 1 percent of earners.
The initiative, Prop 47, is one of 11 passed by Californians this year and is the most far-reaching tax cut in history.
“No one in this room has a better sense of what tax reform ought to look like,” said Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. “But it’s difficult for me to explain it to the millions out there who are watching what tax reform is becoming in terms of the numbers of programs that are going to get cut.”
Brown has warned that the California budget might collapse if the tax hike and surtaxes take effect.
The state’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst says Prop 47 will cut revenues by $2.3 billion over the next two years.
Supporters of Proposition 47 say California needs tax relief in its fiscal condition.
“I’m tired of people saying it’s bad government,” said state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, who proposed the measure. “Tax reform is not just about raising a few dollars in the economy, it’s a way to get money to the people that need it the least.”
The measure passed by the state Senate on Wednesday is on a fast-track to passage by the Assembly. It now needs Governor Jerry Brown’s signature to become law.
A study by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office said the measure could affect up to 6 million people. In addition to raising the rate, it imposes a surtax of 10.5 percent that applies to some middle class and some high-earning taxpayers.
While the number of eligible voters has grown, the measure is now at least a year from passage.
“I’ve been in public service for a quarter of my life. I’ve never been a one-man or one-woman issue,” Assemblywoman Nancy
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