Tax fairness asks the people who have the most ability to pay higher taxes—the wealthy and corporations—to pay their fair share to fund California’s schools and vital public services. Enacting progressive tax policies—like Proposition 30 in 2012, and fixing the commercial property tax system—is key to solving the overarching problem of growing economic inequality that plagues our state and country.
The Fight for California’s Future is an open-ended effort, underway since 2009, to educate the public about the real problems facing the state, and the real solutions that will fix them. Our work on Prop 55 in 2016 is the most recent result of this campaign, which included passing Proposition 25 in November of 2010, the March for California's Future earlier that year, and educating the public about fair tax policies in 2011 and 2012 through trainings, publications, opinion research, and publicizing the research findings, which led to passage of Prop 30.
Prop 30 stopped the bleeding in state revenue, but it is only a start in restoring revenues lost over the years, and we will continue to see anti-tax, anti-government forces attempt to undermine the public sector. (View a video on how Prop 30 is working.) When you hear these people say, “We don’t have the money to provide adequate public services,” or “California has a spending problem,” they are wrong. We have a revenue problem. If California were a country, its economy would be the eighth richest in the world. The problem isn’t a lack of money. The problem is the wrong priorities.
There are two parts to this picture. We have a tax system that does not ask those who have the most wealth and resources to pay their fair share—even with passage of Prop 30, wealth and income have been massively redistributed in California and the nation over the past three decades in the wrong direction. The top one percent take home nearly a quarter of all income, up from 8 percent three decades ago. At the same time, the very richest people are paying fewer taxes overall and keeping more money for themselves than they used to. Their greater share of income, and lower tax rates compared to decades ago, equal the neglect and decline of our public services. Until recently, the general population has not realized how skewed the economy has become.
This arrangement was kept in place by undemocratic rules in the state constitution that allowed anti-government, anti-public education forces to block the will of the majority of the people of the state and the majority of the Legislature as well. One third of the Legislature could stop any tax increase or block the state budget. With Prop 25, the Majority Budget Act, a simple majority now can pass a budget. But the two-thirds supermajority rule for passing a tax remains in place, and needs to be changed.
The Fight for California's Future seeks to bring together everyone who wants to protect public education and services. CFT is working hard with other unions and community organizations to bring new revenues to the state so that we may fund education and necessary services properly. And we are working to educate the public about who and what the obstacles are to a better future for all Californians.
After we pass Prop 55 in November, the next step in the fight for fair tax policies is the “Make it Fair” effort, created by a coalition of unions and community organizations working to close loopholes created by Proposition 13 in 1978 that allow large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes. These loopholes cost the state $9 billion a year in lost revenues that could be supporting our underfunded public schools and services.
Without fair tax policies to fund California's future, there will be no way to solve the state budget problem. Click here for more information or to download resources.