SD7: Would they extend Prop. 30 taxes?

Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer says Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla flip-flopped on extending Proposition 30’s tax hikes to fund California’s schools, but Bonilla’s campaign said she has been consistent all along: She doesn’t support extending those taxes, but would support imposing new ones in their place.

The two Democrats are facing off in the 7th State Senate District’s special election, scheduled for May 19.

A new Bonilla campaign mailer that attacks Glazer for distorting her positions says she opposes extending the Prop. 30 taxes: “Glazer and his billionaire mega donor Bill Bloomfield are lying about Bonilla because they want to hide the fact that Steve Glazer was the ‘mastermind’ behind Prop 30, the $13.1 billion tax increase.”

The mailer follows that with a direct quote from Bonilla: “Steve Glazer and I both oppose extending Prop. 30.”


Josh Pulliam, Bonilla’s campaign consultant, said late Thursday afternoon that Bonilla has never supported an extension – whether by legislative action or another ballot measure – of Proposition 30’s taxes, and on several occasions has publicly corrected those who said otherwise.

She does, however, support a new, different, voter-approved tax hike measure to fund education in place of Prop. 30, he said.

Many apparently have been confused by this – perhaps including me.

In January, I reported on a TriValley Democratic Club forum at which Bonilla and then-candidate Joan Buchanan (who was eliminated in March’s special primary election) made their pitches.

Unsurprisingly, both said they would work to extend the Prop. 30 sales taxes and income taxes on the rich – due to expire in 2016 and 2018, respectively – in order to keep bankrolling education.

“The governor has made it very clear that the word ‘temporary’ means temporary, but … we need to go out to the people, I believe we can make the case,” Bonilla said. “There’s no way that you can get education on the cheap, it just doesn’t work.”

Contra Costa Times columnist Tom Barnridge wrote this after asking questions at a televised candidates’ forum in February:

What to do when Proposition 30 expires, ending temporary increases in sales and income taxes? Buchanan, Bonilla and Kremin would put an extension before voters. Glazer would let it expire because a temporary tax, he said, is meant to be temporary.

And the Lamorinda Democratic Club’s March newsletter recounted a Feb. 4 candidates’ forum thusly:

Susan Bonilla and Joan Buchanan favored extending Proposition 30 taxes, and a oil severance tax to continue to improve California schools—especially for the less fortunate. Steve Glazer, meanwhile, was against any new taxes and instead believed the government would have to live with the revenues it already receives.

Glazer campaign spokesman Jason Bezis said “there are more flips and flops in the Bonilla tax position than an amusement park roller coaster.

“She blindly supported a Prop. 30 tax extension in the primary, even though the promise to voters in 2012 was that it would be temporary. Now, in the general election, she flops away from it because that broken promise hurts her,” he claimed. “After this duplicity is uncovered, she flips yet again and says she wants to raise billions in new taxes, but just not ‘Prop 30’ taxes. You can see why voters are dizzy with Sacramento politicians like Bonilla. They have had enough of the political doublespeak.”

Incidentally, the Lamorinda Democratic Club – Glazer’s home turf – was scheduled to take an endorsement vote last week, president Katie Ricklefs said Thursday. But the vote was scrapped when a Glazer campaign operative cited a club bylaw – not updated since before the top-two primary system took effect – that essentially precludes the club from picking one Democrat over another in a general election. “We did a straw poll that showed 100 percent support for Susan, though,” Ricklefs said.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.


    Simply the Prop 30 income tax increase is a measure of equity. The lower income pay a large percentage of income in a very high sales tax and excise tax regime. A further measure of a future tax regime would be to introduce a tax credit such as the renters tax credit to offset this regime.

  • Willis James

    Apparently there is not enough money for education if the Prop 30 taxes are allowed to expire. So we are told we need new taxes to cover the shortfall.

    If this is the case, then how can the Democratic leadership propose a entirely new program, costing from $500 million to $800 million annually, to cover undocumented immigrants with Medi-Cal?

    That particular proposal which Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, are pressing for state legislation to help undocumented immigrants in California.

    So we have a entirely new spending proposal, costing 500 to 800 million each year, at the same time Bonnilla is telling us we don’t have enough money for education, unless we raise new taxes.

    Pray tell, how will you fund the new 500 to 800 million dollar growth in Medi-Cal for undocumented individuals?

    Can we assume that will necessitate a additional new tax in addition to the new taxes for education?

    What is Bonilla’s position on Medi-Cal for undocumented? Its called Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. Bonilla’s leadership supports its passage. I assume she will support it as well… and will soon tell us about the new tax that will pay for it.

    Surely someone must be asking Bonilla about this HUGE new spending proposal?

  • JohnW

    Yes, sales taxes are regressive. But the effective income tax rates for moderate income are extremely low. The rent credit makes some sense, but I thought we already had something like that, at least for lower income.

    We can debate what is “fair” until the cows come home. But we need a revenue plan that works. Double digit rates on upper income at the state level are unsustainable. As we have learned repeatedly, they create “feast or famine” reliance on income from stock options and bonuses and cause at least some people to look for ways to shift tax residency to out of state. It is also unfair to people who are normally in middle income tax brackets but have non-recurring income spikes from a severance package or from mandatory IRA withdrawls.

    We need a well-rounded, well-balanced bag of tricks for taxes (income, sales, property, inheritance etc) without over-reliance on any one category. Each category is “fair” to some people and “unfair” to others.