California lawmakers will delay tax-voucher stimulus package

By Katy Murphy for POLITICO 08/24/2020 09:03 PM EDT

California lawmakers for now will delay an economic stimulus package that would have raised billions of dollars through tax vouchers.

The news: CA SB815 (19R), which surfaced over the weekend, turns the tax voucher proposal into a study, with an implementation plan from the Franchise Tax Board due March 1. It’s called the California Economic Improvement Tax Voucher Act.

Reaction: Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said he was still optimistic the state will use this unconventional tool next year. “I know in March we’ll still probably be in the middle of some tough economic times,” Ting said in an interview Monday. “I think we had hoped for a faster time frame, but based on discussions with the administration, this was the time frame the parties felt most comfortable with.”

Context: Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and other lawmakers in late July announced the broad outlines of a plan to accelerate spending on infrastructure projects and other programs by borrowing billions from from future tax obligations. The voucher plan was immediately criticized by SEIU and other labor organizations that wanted to see a tax on wealthy Californians instead. Ting said he supported the tax proposals, but that they lacked support in the Legislature.

The tax vouchers, he said, are “another reasonable alternative.”

“It’s always difficult to try something difficult that you’ve never done before,” Ting said. “You don’t have the luxury of getting it wrong.”

What’s next: The Legislature has until Monday night, the final day of the legislative session, to approve SB 815.

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