RAC-CA Campaign for a People First Budget
June 4, 2020
Our Ask of State Legislators and the Governor:
To raise significant new revenue as soon as possible to rebuild our economy and help California weather the pandemic.
In the face of the public health crisis and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reform Jews across California are calling for a state budget that puts people first. Investing in all Californians is the best way to grow our capacity to recover from this crisis.
The Jewish philosopher Maimonides taught that the highest form of support is to help a person in need gain a livelihood. Cutting funds to safety nets and schools will do the very opposite: low-income people, communities of color, immigrants, and youth will continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic instead of having the chance to contribute to our shared future. Investing in jobs, schools, and healthcare for all Californians will grow our capacity to recover much faster than being overly cautious and waiting for better times. Now is the time to leverage our state’s tremendous wealth to offer vital public support. RAC-CA calls on the Governor and the State Legislature to shun austerity, put people first, and seek out new revenue for a budget that allows all Californians to be part of our recovery.
What We Want:
We need substantial new revenue not only to make up for the shortfall, but to be able to invest in the people of California and get out of the economic crisis. The new revenue is needed now; waiting will make the crisis worse. Since working families, People of Color and other vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of the pandemic, new revenue should come from individuals and corporations with the ability to pay. We should collect revenue in a just and fair manner necessary for the well-being of our country in this difficult time.
Legislators and others have proposed several policy alternatives to increase revenue, including the following: raising taxes for corporations that benefited from recent Federal tax cuts; eliminating loopholes and giveaways to corporations; a wealth tax; raising taxes on top earners; and a Senate Leadership Proposal to create a $25 billion economic recovery fund generated from discounted pre-payment of future income tax. At this time, we do not have a position on these or other specific measures. It is likely that no one measure alone will produce enough revenue to close the budget gap, respond to the pandemic and invest in Californians to get the state economy back to health. Our commitment is not to any one policy but to passing a package of substantial and fair revenue measures.
Corporations in California do not pay their fair share of taxes. California will lose an estimated $63 billion in state revenues in 2019-20 to personal and corporate income tax breaks, which primarily benefit higher-income households and businesses. Corporations are paying half of what they did in the 1990s when measured against their profits. California ranks in the middle – 37th – for the local and state tax burden among all states, and California ranks among the lowest in tax burdens if you take into account public spending that benefits corporations.