Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly say they're ready to approve a partial solution to the state's budget crisis - and it includes tax increases for all Californians. The $18 billion proposal calls for a gas tax hike of 13 cents per gallon, a two-and-a-half percent surcharge on state income taxes, and a three-quarters of a cent increase in the state sales tax.
GOP lawmakers have refused to vote for new taxes, and Democratic Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg says it's time to work around them.
Steinberg: "You know, I think the message to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle is, we want you to engage in governing with us, but now and beginning January 1st into the next budget session, we will solve this problem, either with you or without you."
It takes GOP votes to pass new taxes, but Steinberg says the legislature can pass these measures without Republican support. He says that's because they will cut some taxes - then add new, higher fees instead. Fees can be passed with a simple majority vote.
The state faces a roughly 40 billion dollar shortfall over the next year and-a-half. This plan would take care of less than half of the problem. Republicans say the plan is bad news for the state's economy and a legal challenge is likely.