To the Editor:
We must all act now or much of this year's state budget shortfall may disproportionately affect the most vulnerable Californians - children, seniors and low-income wage earners. To protect crucial public services we have to look for new revenue sources.
Governor Davis has proposed reducing programs for low-income families by $2.6 billion. When lost federal funds are taken into account, this amount swells to $4.3 billion. Over 400,000 Californians would lose their medical coverage and over a million would be affected by such proposals as the elimination of some benefits which are not federally required, a reduction in the rates paid to health care providers, and cuts to safety-net hospitals.
The League of Women Voters together with a number of other groups believes that the best way to balance income and spending is to raise the rates for higher-income taxpayers. SB 1255(Burton) would raise the state's top personal income tax rate to 10 percent for joint filers with taxable incomes greater than $260,000; 11 percent, if greater than $520,000. These 2.4 percent of California's taxpayers are the same people who benefitted the most from the recent federal tax cuts. And once the director of finance certifies that the state has regained a prudent reserve, the tax increase would be repealed.
We urge you to join us in writing, calling or sending an e-mail to your representatives in the State Assembly and State Senate and to Governor Davis, to let them know that you prefer SB1255 rather than cutting funds for the most needy. The budget will probably not be passed until late June or early July, and significant changes may be made until it is signed by the Governor. There is not much time, but still enough for you to be heard.
Please call the League of Women Voters for further information or help at 843-8824 and leave word for one of us to call you back.
Nancy Bickel, President
Lois Brubeck, Action VP