Written by KATHLEEN RONAYNE- Associated Press
(AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to end the sales tax on tampons and diapers and use revenue from legal marijuana sales toward enhancing child care programs.
Those items are part of a “parents’ agenda” Newsom will announce Tuesday in a preview of the revised state budget he’ll present later this week.
“As anyone who takes care of kids can tell you, these costs add up,” Newsom will say, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his office. “From diapers to child care, raising kids is expensive wherever you live. But when you factor in the cost of living here in California, it is close to impossible.”
Cutting the diaper and tampon tax would eliminate about $55 million in revenue from the budget, according to legislative estimates. His child care proposals, meanwhile, would cost about $130 million, with about $80 million coming from taxes on legalized marijuana. Newsom also wants to give families with children under 6 a tax credit of $1,000, but his office did not say how much that would cost.
Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who has proposed a bill to eliminate the tampon tax several times, praised Newsom for including it in his budget. She said her proposal is about creating “menstrual equity,” meaning that women don’t face taxes for products their biology requires them to buy.
The proposal is about “having a tax code that’s gender neutral (and) a tax code that represents our values,” she said.
Several other states including New York have already eliminated the tax on tampons. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown rebuffed eliminating the tax on menstrual products and diapers in 2016. He vetoed the proposals alongside five other tax-related bills, suggesting that such issues should be considered as part of the budget. But he included neither proposal in any of his future budgets.
“Tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the General Fund money,” he wrote in his veto message. “This is even more important when the state’s budget remains precariously balanced. Therefore, I cannot sign these measures.”
Newsom has said he plans to maintain Brown’s reserved approach to budgeting by limiting new ongoing spending in favor of using extra money to pay down debts and bank away for the next recession. On Thursday, he’ll offer an updated budget that will show whether he’s maintaining that approach. He and lawmakers must agree on a one-year spending plan by June 30.
In January, he proposed a $209 billion budget with a $21.5 billion surplus, the state’s largest in at least 20 years. His plan increased spending by about 4% but pledged more than $13 billion to build the state’s reserves and pay down debt. He proposed several billion dollars’ worth of new spending on child care, education and housing, and also called for a new tax to pay for improvements to drinking water.
On child care, Newsom would spend an additional $54 million on county-run child care programs through CalWORKS, the state’s public assistance program. Newsom also wants to spend $80 million in tax revenue from legalized marijuana to pay for child care programs, though his staff didn’t offer specifics ahead of the press conference.