Capitol Alert

SEIU, CTA tax hike proposal may include money for hospitals, doctors

Nine-year-old Julia Kuzmich shows her support and holds her sign at a California Teachers Association rally at the state Capitol in 2011.
Nine-year-old Julia Kuzmich shows her support and holds her sign at a California Teachers Association rally at the state Capitol in 2011. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Some of the prominent interest groups divided over how to extend Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax increases next year are in discussions and working toward putting up a unified front, according to one consultant.

Following a series of meetings, proponents of the various tax-extension proposals say they are exploring a compromise that would raise money into a special fund to pay for schools and colleges as well as healthcare programs. Involved in the talks are the Service Employees International Union, California Teachers Association, California Hospital Association and the California Medical Association.

The organizations began speaking over the last few weeks but have yet to put together a draft.

“These groups are continuing to discuss the final aspects of this new initiative, outreach with other allied groups and do the research and due diligence necessary to ensure its passage,” Democratic strategist Gale Kaufman, who is working with the CTA and SEIU, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

There are currently two main tax measures. One, by SEIU and the CTA, would extend the income tax portion of the measure until 2030.

The second tax proposal was crafted by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West and the California Hospital Association, who were seeking their own expanded – and permanent – income tax hike as a way to put healthcare funding on the table. UHW, which separately is in a standoff with the SEIU state council over dueling minimum wage plans, is absent from the new talks.

A representative for SEIU-UHW declined to comment on the development.

A new fiscal analysis of the CTA-backed measure predicts boosting the income taxes would, in a weak economy, generate about $5 billion more in revenue, but as much as $11 billion with a surging stock market.

“Near the midpoint of this range – around $7.5 billion – is one reasonable expectation of the additional revenue that this measure would generate in 2019. Thereafter, through 2030, that amount will rise or fall each year depending on trends in the stock market and the economy,” the analysis predicts.

While it’s unclear where all of the money would go for the new deal, the CMA has for years been agitating for an increase in the reimbursement rates for doctors who take Medi-Cal patients. Another avenue for that revenue is a proposed $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes aiming for next year’s statewide ballot.

The hospitals’ lobbying group also has been part a multi-million dollar effort to boost the rates doctors get for seeing low-income patients.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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