Cuts will have to comprise a major portion of any budget-balancing plan for California, no question. But an all-cuts budget would slice far too deeply into far too many areas. Republicans seem to have successfully blocked a June ballot measure that would have asked voters about an emergency extension of temporary tax hikes.
What's left? Not much. But this idea has merit, and a poll by the California Federation of Teachers suggest that voters overwhelmingly agree: Increase state income taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent by 1 percent. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it would raise an estimated $2.5 billion a year, a fair chunk of the deficit after more than $11 billion in agreed-upon budget cuts are factored in. The hike, which would affect only Californians earning more than $500,000 a year, would put the wealthiest taxpayers nearer the rate they paid in the mid-1990s, when Pete Wilson was governor.
Sacramento will have to come up with some other revenue solutions, but this step would lay part of the burden on Californians most able to handle it. Sixty percent of Republican poll respondents, 79 percent of independents and other minor-party voters, and 89 percent of Democrats say yes. We're with them on this.