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By Julian Peeples

State Leaders Propose Wealth Tax on Ultra-Rich

As billionaires thrive, officials look to help struggling families

 

CTA joined a group of state leaders today in calling for a bold solution to the unprecedented economic crisis pushing millions of California families to the edge—a wealth tax on the state’s most extraordinarily fortunate individuals to provide support and help to the many who are struggling.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) unveiled the first-in-the-nation California Wealth Tax, AB 2088, which would generate $7.5 billion a year by applying a 0.4-percent tax on the net worth of individuals with more than $30 million in assets (not real estate). This proposal would truly tax the most fortunate among us—about 30,000 people or the top thousandth of the 1 percent. These are the same billionaires who have seen their wealth balloon by more than 25 percent while millions of California families wonder how they are going to pay their rent.

“California students, parents and educators are facing a school year like none we’ve seen before,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Our most vulnerable students and communities pay the highest price when schools don’t have a stable, reliable funding source from year-to-year. The time is now to put people before politics and boldly adopt increased taxes on California’s wealthiest billionaires whose portfolios increased exponentially while our communities struggle to keep the lights on and put food on their families’ tables.”

California public schools are facing a pandemic-caused $20 billion deficit next year, which will lead to draconian cuts to services and supports that will hurt our students, educators and communities, said kindergarten teacher and CTA Board Member Erika Jones. She joined leaders at today’s announcement to voice CTA’s support and share the perspective of educators.

“The COVID-19 crisis is deepening the impact of racial, health and economic injustices in every corner of the state,” says Jones, a member of United Teachers Los Angeles. “We are a state of great innovation and wealth, the fifth largest economy in the world and home of the greatest number of billionaires in the country, yet 30 percent of our students don’t have access to internet and technology.”

Jones said the pandemic’s economic impacts have already caused school districts statewide to scramble, unable to provide the necessary Personal Protective Equipment and implement proper safety measures to ensure the health of educators and communities.

“Safe school reopening and equity for our students requires additional funding,” Jones says. “We’re calling on lawmakers to increase revenues by suspending corporate tax credits and exemptions, capturing unrealized capital gains and imposing a tax on individuals who hold the highest levels of wealth.”

The need for immediate action is crucial, with concurrent crises exacerbating impacts to families statewide, including 15-percent unemployment, widespread housing uncertainty, lack of adequate and safe childcare, and the ongoing public health crisis. Struggling Californians will need the support of public services  already stretched thin from chronic underfunding and that will face billions in additional cuts without assistance from U.S. Congress.

“While families have been struggling to put food on the table, billionaires have increased their net worth by 25 percent during the first three months of the pandemic,” Jones says. “We thank Assemblymember Bonta for stepping forth with AB 2088. Now, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to get our state through this crisis.”