Dems Lay Tax Cards On The Table

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After several weeks of calling for billions of dollars in new tax revenues.. but not actually providing details... legislative Democrats unveiled their proposal late tonight as the joint budget conference committee wrapped up its work on a new spending plan.

The tax hike comes in at $9.7 billion, and will no doubt be met with a chilly reception by Republicans in both houses, many of whom have taken pledges to not raise taxes.

The single largest proposed tax increase is a reinstatement of higher taxes on the most wealthy, a plan that Democrats say would bring in $5.6 billion.

The rest of the extra cash in the tax package:

* Better enforcement of current tax laws, accounting for an estimated $1.5 billion

* Ending a tax break for businesses with net operating losses, for an extra $1.1 billion

* A repeal of a tax adjustment for middle and upper-middle income taxpayers (between $50,000 and $97,000 in earnings), bringing in $815 million

* Rolling back the dependent child credit for high-income earners, amounting to $215 million

* Restoration of a higher tax on many businesses that existed prior to 1997, generating $470 million

The tax package now throws the ball back in the court of GOP legislators, who want to balance the budget through spending cuts alone (and possibly... possibly... some additional borrowing). It also will be interesting to gauge the reaction of Governor Schwarzenegger, whose anti-tax stance is well known... but who has also said all items ought to be on the table when it comes to erasing the current $15 billion shortfall.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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