California’s governor pushes new taxes, fees despite whopping $21.5 billion surplus


AP: Gov. Gavin Newsom Budget 190509

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing new taxes and fees even as California enjoys a huge surplus, but lawmakers, including his fellow Democrats, appear to have little appetite for new taxes.

On Wednesday, a budget subcommittee of the state Senate axed the governor’s plan to slap a water tax on Californians to fund a safe drinking water program in disadvantaged communities. Newsom endorsed the tax in January and highlighted it last week in his May budget revision.

Newsom’s record $213.5 billion revised budget seeks other fees or taxes, including a health-care tax. It comes as California enjoys a projected surplus of roughly $21.5 billion — larger than the budget sizes of at least 20 other states.

“We’re talking about close to $2.4 billion in new taxes,” said Republican state Sen. Patricia Bates, who represents portions of Orange and San Diego counties. “Everything in California is costing more and incomes are less.”

The budget proposes a health tax or “individual mandate” penalty starting in 2020 for Californians not having health insurance to fund expanded subsidies for Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange. Penalty revenue is expected to top $1 billion over three years.

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