Perata: Sales tax could save CA schools

March 5, 2008 7:09:24 PM PST
Democrats in Sacramento are facing off against the Governor over his proposed budget cuts. They want to raise taxes instead of cutting education. The new plan would force everyone to pay a little more.

The desperation to save education funding for California schools is increasingly evident. Numerous teachers have already received layoff notices. Kids athletic programs are being eliminated and there's even talk of at least one campus reducing the school week to four days.

"Raise taxes. Is that clear enough? Raise taxes," says Senate President Don Perata.

Perata says tax hikes are the only way to prevent cuts to classrooms. He prefers increasing the sales tax because we all pay a little bit at a time.

The Oakland Democrat may even hold up the entire state budget if Republicans refuse to go along.

"No one's going to tell me that with what's at stake, that the average Californian would not be willing to pay pennies on the dollar more for an educational system here," says Perata.

The amount has nott been determined, but a one percent increase would bring in $5 billion dollars, which would cover what Governor Schwarzenegger proposes to cut from education.

Republicans are criticizing all of the Democrats' tax proposals to fix the budget crisis, from the car tax, to the cigarette tax, and closing the yacht tax loophole.

"Our sales tax rate is the second highest rate in the country. To bump that by a full percentage point would make us, by far, the single highest sales tax rate in the country," says Sacramento Assemblyman Roger Niello.

Shoppers seem as divided about the prospect of having to pay a higher sales tax to ease cuts to education.

"I wouldn't mind paying an additional sales tax. I have five children, and if it saves schools, I believe that's the right way to focus money," says tax supporter, Norman Jester.

"It's high enough as it is. I think it's going to have an impact on the economy. It's bad enough as it is right now," says Ruben Rios, who opposes a tax hike.

Senator Perata kicks off a statewide tour Thursday to sell the sales tax idea to voters.


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