By Barbara Jones,
Bolstered by strong support in Los Angeles County and other Democratic strongholds, voters approved a historic tax-hike measure that will generate $6 billion annually and avert catastrophic cuts to California’s public schools, colleges and universities.
Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and bankrolled by organized labor, Proposition 30 was approved on Tuesday by a 54-46 margin, with late-night returns from Los Angeles County giving it a come-from-behind win. Voters also rejected rival Proposition 38, with less than 28 percent supporting the broad income-tax hike to fund education.
On Wednesday, political experts said turnout was key to the success of Prop. 30, with Democrats, Latinos and young people who turned out to re-elect President Barack Obama also voting to increase the state’s sales tax and the income tax on the wealthy.
“It was saved by a transforming electorate who mobilized in the last few weeks,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director at the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles.
At the same time, the issue resonated with voters concerned about the fate of California’s struggling schools.
“Voters have been telling us in polls that the area they least want to see cut is schools, and the area they would most be willing to see taxes go up is for schools,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California. “We’ve never really had the opportunity at the state level to vote in a way to test their inclination to do so.”
Prop. 30 raises the sales tax a quarter-percent for the next four years, starting Jan. 1, 2013. It also increases the tax rate on incomes of more than $250,000 for the next seven years, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012.