Capitol Alert

Republican tax plan is a ‘monstrosity,’ Jerry Brown says. But do Californians agree?

With California’s governor lambasting the Republican tax overhaul as an ugly “monstrosity,” a new statewide poll found the widespread perception that the bill will hurt the state.

The survey, released late Monday by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies, shows 52 percent of Californians believe the federal legislation will adversely affect the state, while just 17 percent say it will have a positive impact. Fourteen percent don’t foresee the tax plan changing much in California. Republicans were split, 33 percent negative to 33 percent positive, over how it will impact the state.

The general view that the law is bad for California could haunt GOP officials and candidates in next year’s midterm elections, poll director Mark DiCamillo said in an interview.

“That may have the longer-term impact if you are looking at political ramifications,” DiCamillo said of the results. “They are going to have to defend themselves.”

Congress is preparing for a final vote on the Republicans tax bill amid last-minute concerns about a senator who could benefit financially from it. A Monmouth University poll, also out Monday, showed Americans disapprove of the tax bill by a 2-to-1 margin.

In deep blue California, 51 percent overall say they are opposed to the legislation, including 42 percent who are strongly against it. Only 30 percent of Californians favor the bill. Separately, just 1 in 5 Californians think it will benefit themselves directly, while 40 percent predict a negative impact.

Residents here have been hearing mostly poor things about the tax overhaul. Jerry Brown, the Democratic governor, released a video message via email on Monday blasting it as “bad for you and ... bad for America.”

“It’s never good to have one party vote one way and another party vote 100 percent the other way,” said Brown, who is seated at a desk, surrounded by the American and California flags. “That’s dividing America at a time when we need unity.”

Secondly, Brown argues, the measure will balloon the national debt while giving “massive” tax breaks to corporations that are already flush with billions of dollars.

“Who is going to pay for that?” Brown asked rhetorically. “People that live in states that voted against President Donald Trump.”

Brown’s top finance official lamented in a letter last week that the overhaul, among other indignities, scraps the state and local tax deduction claimed in more than 6 million California tax returns.

On Monday, the state’s number crunchers issued an update on the conference report treats state and local tax deductions, as well as casualty loss deduction.

Included in the one out of every three tax returns that claim the state and local tax dedication, they argue, are millions of middle-income households that may not benefit from the increased standard deduction. They note that more than 80 percent of state income tax and property tax deductions exceed the $10,000 limit.

The average deduction for state and local income taxes is almost $16,000 per return, while state and local property taxes average less than $6,000 per return.

The conference bill also limits the deduction for casualty losses to disasters declared by the president. It won’t help those harmed by events which aren’t large enough to be recognized as such.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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