Richmond first city in the state to endorse Millionaire’s Tax

Councilmember Ritterman displayed this graphic during last night's city council meeting

Councilmember Ritterman displayed this graphic during last night's city council meeting

Richmond is making a habit of being the first.

In June, Richmond became first city in Contra Costa County to issue its own municipal identification cards.

 In December, the city came one step closer to becoming the first city in the state to impose a tax on soda.

Tuesday night, the City Council made Richmond the first city in the state to endorse a “millionaire’s tax.”

The council voted 6-0-1 to pass the symbolic measure supporting a statewide initiative for the November ballot to raise state taxes on those making more than $1 million annually. Councilmember Corky Booze abstained.

If the act’s supporters get the more than 500 thousand  signatures required, the measure on the ballot would propose an extra 3-percent tax on income an individuals who earn between $1-2 million annually, and 5 percent on income over $3 million annually.

The proposed initiative comes in part as a response to California’s fiscal crisis. Since 2008, education, welfare, child and elderly health services have been among the programs to undergo deep funding cuts. This year, Governor Jerry Brown has projected a $5 billion cut to education along with reductions in other services.

If California can’t create additional revenue, cities like Richmond will continue to lose services.

“We have so much that we need as a city and so much we need as a state,” Councilmember Jovanka Beckles said. “We need better schools, better equipment.  We all know all these services that have been cut and will continue to be cut … affect us tremendously.”

The resolution to support the measure was proposed by Councilmembers Jeff Ritterman, Jim Rogers and Tom Butt. In all, if the state were to increase its tax rate following the measure’s proposal it would bring in about $6 billion, according to projections by the California Federation of Teachers.

Brown is in the process of collecting signatures for his own measure, which proposes an initiative that would increase sales tax, as well as increase tax on those who earn more than $250,000 a year.

But Ritterman said that a millionaire tax makes more sense.  Not only would it bring in more money than Brown’s proposal in the long run, he said, it would redistribute wealth by taxing people who can afford it.

“On average the Jerry Brown tax will cost each of you $123 a year,” Ritterman said. “This tax won’t affect anyone in this room.”

Ritterman said that the millionaire tax has broad public support, noting recent polling data that showed nearly two-thirds of Californians backing the initiative.

Residents at the meeting Tuesday said it was crucial for Richmond to take an active role in garnering support for the initiative.

“No rich people are going to be support this thing,” said Mike Parker, a Richmond resident. “This is something that the people do and if you want it done, you have to do it.”

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said she was convinced that the measure was favored by residents during a rally Monday, when she joined a group of community members to hang a millionaire tax banner above the freeway.

“People were honking like crazy in support,” McLaughlin said. “This tax has support, I assure you. We are definitely on the right track. But, it does need the support of you to go out and gather signatures.”

4 Comments

  1. John Kenyon

    With Fed Cap Gains tax at 15% those that derive their incomes from CG, be they wealthy or not, get to pay a lower rate then the rest of us. Raising the Cap Gains rate creates parody for tax payers. That is fair. To single out a group and say you must pay additional taxes and none of the rest of us will pay anything addtional seems unfair and even bullying, even if those bullied were the advantaged. Bullying and fairness don’t change because of who is on the other end of the stick.

    • Tony Suggs

      People who have invested money and reap a profit from the investment, have already paid taxes on that invested money. Raising the capital gains tax is just double taxation.

      Regarding the “millionaire tax” oh yea, lets tax someone else just because we are the majority and we can out vote them.

      How about the government try something new. Live with in its means. The government is not the in all and cure all for everyone.

      Even though there are some in government that think they can solve all the problems that people have, that is just wishful thinking.

      For those that think the government can provide for all their needs, that also is wishful thinking.

      • Jeff Ritterman

        Those who earn more than $1 million in income have doubled their income over the last decade while incomes for the majority have stayed flat or fallen. The tax rates on the wealthy have decreased substantially. California is 46th in the US in education spending and without demanding that the wealthy pay their fair share our schools will be in even worse shape, our children will suffer and our state’s future will not be a happy one. We all do better when we all do better.

        • Tony Suggs

          What is everyones, including the rich, “fair share?”

          In 2 years when the deficit is still there and the costs of services have gone up again, how much more will the “rich” have to pay to make sure they are paying their “fair share?”

          The truth is, if you take every dime that the “rich” earn or get some how, it will not be enough to cover the expenses you want paid for.

          One more point, how many of the “rich” send their kids to public schools? So you want them to pay for services that they don’t even use. Now that is ok because many people pay taxes for services that they don’t use.

          But stop using the children, police and fire services as scare tactics to get more money to spend on a government that can’t provide everything to everyone and continues to spend more than it takes in, no matter what the current economyn is!

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