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CA Groups Press for Tax on Extreme Wealth

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A proposed state tax on the ultra-wealthy would affect about 15,000 families in California. (Karen Roach/AdobeStock)
A proposed state tax on the ultra-wealthy would affect about 15,000 families in California. (Karen Roach/AdobeStock)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
March 16, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a new state tax on the uber-wealthy, in order to reduce inequality and better fund public services.

Supporters want to place a measure on the ballot that would levy a 1% tax on households whose net worth exceeds $50 million, and a 1.5% tax on wealth of more than $1 billion.

Asm. Lorena Gonzalez, D-South San Diego, said the money would help create a more just society.

"We create more billionaires than anywhere in the world, and yet we still have people living on the streets," Gonzalez observed. "We still have schools that are underfunded. We still have people that don't have access to health care. All those things cost."

Opponents cite the state's current budget surplus and say higher taxes would drive ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs to move out of state.

The tax would generate an extra $22.3 billion a year.

Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers, noted that during the pandemic, 7.8 million Californians filed for unemployment but billionaires in the Golden State increased their wealth by more than $250 billion.

"This raises unprecedented revenue that can finally lower our student-teacher ratio, rebuild our infrastructure, create more green jobs, fend off wildfires, build housing for the homeless and much more," Freitas contended.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he does not support a proposal to raise taxes at this time.

Once the package of bills is filed, it would take a vote of two-thirds of the Legislature to put the wealth tax on the ballot. Then the measure would need a simple majority from voters to pass.

Disclosure: California Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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