Californians Prefer Millionaires' Levy to Brown’s Tax Proposal

Californians support higher taxes for millionaires over Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise sales levies and rates for residents earning $250,000 or more, according to a new poll.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters back tax increases on millionaires proposed in a ballot measure by the California Federation of Teachers, according to a Field Research Corp. poll released today. The union would boost levies on those earning $1 million to 13.3 percent from 10.3 percent now. Those with incomes of $2 million or more would pay 15.3 percent.

Fifty-eight percent support Brown’s plan to raise retail-sales taxes to 7.75 percent from 7.25 percent and increase wage levies on individuals making $250,000 or more, currently at 9.3 percent. Those earning $1 million and up would pay 12.3 percent. More opposed this plan, at 36 percent, than the union initiative, at 31 percent.

Backers are trying to get the initiatives on the November ballot. They offer alternative ways to help close California’s $9.2 billion budget deficit while maintaining funding for public schools. The telephone survey of 1,003 registered voters Feb. 2-18 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

An alternative proposed by Molly Munger, a wealthy lawyer, was favored by 45 percent of voters, based on a smaller sample. Her plan would raise taxes on everyone making $17,346 or more, the tier where the current levy rises to 2 percent. She would impose bigger increases on the highest incomes. More people opposed this plan, at 48 percent, than supported it. The poll of 344 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

Business, Labor

Brown, a Democrat, has won support from both business and labor groups for his plan, said Steve Glazer, the governor’s political adviser. The union-backed millionaire tax increase is more likely to encounter well-funded opposition, Glazer said by telephone.

Polls have consistently shown higher support for raising levies on millionaires, said Joshua Pechthalt, the teachers’ union president.

“The Field Poll shows the millionaires tax has the best chance of passage,” he said in a statement.

If multiple tax measures appear on the same ballot, support for each is likely to diminish, Glazer said.

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