California

Gavin Newsom wants to end California taxes on diapers, tampons

Californians would no longer pay sales taxes on tampons and diapers under a plan backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

He announced the new policy Tuesday flanked by female lawmakers who have tried to end sales taxes on diapers and tampons for years, arguing they should not be taxed because they are medically necessary.

Newsom also said he will add $130 million for childcare and will double a proposed tax credit for families with children under 6 from $500 to $1,000 when he unveils his updated budget proposal this week.

He’s framing the plans as an effort to help young families afford to live in the state, which has some of the highest living costs in the country.

“I don’t care how well you’re doing. It hits the pocketbook,” he said, referencing his experience buying diapers for his own four children.

Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, also joined him for the announcement.

“This budget shows that in California, we value our children and our parents, and we also value our women,” she said.

Gavin Newsom said his wife has been instrumental in championing the policies he announced. Her support for him running for governor was contingent on him advancing family friendly policies in office, he said.

“This wasn’t negotiable,” he said, laughing.

The governor also reiterated his commitment to one of his highest profile promises: expanding the state’s paid family leave policy to six months per newborn. That would be a significant expansion of the six weeks the state currently offers.

Newsom’s budget proposal for the 2019-20 financial year would expand the current policy by two weeks per parent, using money from the state’s reserves.

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In the past, efforts to end taxes on tampons and diapers have failed because the taxes bring the state revenue. Legislative committees estimate that ending sales taxes on diapers would cost the state about $35 million and ending taxes on feminine hygiene products would cost about $20 million.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, blasted then-Gov. Jerry Brown on Twitter in 2016 when he vetoed one of her attempts to eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products, saying he chose to “balance the budget on women’s backs.”

She and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, have submitted bills this year that would eliminate the taxes.

Newsom’s backing for the plan comes as the state is bringing in higher than expected tax revenue. Last month, corporate taxes came in at $3.4 billion, much higher than the Newsom administration’s estimated $2.6 billion. Income taxes also came in ahead of projections, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Those numbers indicate the state will likely have a big budget surplus next year. Newsom’s proposed budget also aims to add revenue through new taxes and fees to fund health insurance subsidies, clean drinking water and tax credits for low-income families.

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Sophia Bollag covers California politics and government. Before joining The Bee, she reported in Sacramento for the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times. She grew up in California and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
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