With the fall election drawing near, what is the outlook for Gov. Brown’s tax initiative on the November ballot? What are the possible outcomes if it does or does not pass?
The Governor’s proposed tax initiative, Proposition 30, would establish a temporary personal income tax increase on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers for seven years and an increase on all purchases made in California of one-quarter of one percent for four years in order to fund K-12 education, higher education, and public safety.
The 2012-13 Budget enacted this June assumes the approval by voters of Governor Brown’s temporary tax increase initiative and if Proposition 30 is not approved by Californians, $6 billion in automatic budget reductions will be made. The largest reduction would be in Proposition 98 funding, whereby K-14 education would lose almost $5.354 billion in funds. In addition, the University of California and California State University budgets would each be reduced by $250 million, city police departments would lose $20 million, and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection would lose $10 million.
While I have highlighted a few of the automatic budgets reductions that would take place, there are more, and combined they would adversely impact community services.
However, a recent poll conducted by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University School of Public Policy indicates that 56.7 percent of voters support the Governor’s initiative. This makes me optimistic that Proposition 30 will pass and that Californians want to ensure that the state funding of education and public safety programs is maintained. I urge those who are still undecided to think about the legacy we want to leave our children and consider that Proposition 30 is a step to improving their tomorrow.
The 2011-12 Legislative Session recently concluded and you have sent a number of health reform bills to the Governor. Can you highlight a couple key measures and whether you think Gov. Brown will sign them?
California continues to lay the groundwork for federal health reform. The 2011-12 Legislative Session has just concluded and I am proud of the actions we have taken to lay a strong foundation to ensure that California is ready for full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014. I would characterize our efforts as harmonizing California’s laws with an eye toward educating Californians about the opportunities that are to come to access affordable, primary and preventive health care services and coverage.
Among the key bills critical to health reform in the state, my Assembly Bill (AB) 1453, combined with Senate Bill (SB) 951 authored by Sen. Hernández, will establish essential health benefits that individuals and small employers will be able to purchase in the California Health Benefit Exchange. These will be the basic benefits required to be offered by plans and will allow consumers to make “apples to apples” comparisons when selecting the plan that is best for their situation.
Additionally, my AB 1461 and AB 1083, combined with SB 961 authored by Sen. Hernández, will end preexisting condition requirements and plans will no longer be able to deny coverage based on health status. These bills establish limitations on how health plans can rate their insurance products, as well as establish enrollment periods requiring plans to sell their products to any willing purchaser.
While we have made a lot of progress in California, there is more work to do. Governor Brown has called a special session to make sure California will be prepared for the full implementation of health reform in 2014. I look forward to Governor Brown signing my bills, and am eager to continue to work with all stakeholders in the special session.