Los Angeles Business Journal

Survey: L.A. Businesses Have ‘No Appetite’ for Tax Hike Measures

By Howard Fine Thursday, September 27, 2012

L.A. County businesses oppose the three major tax measures on the statewide November ballot, according to a survey released Thursday from the Los Angeles County Business Federation, or BizFed.

But the survey of nearly 500 companies across the county found support for two government reform measures, especially Proposition 32, the “paycheck protection” measure which prohibits political contributions through payroll deduction.

A solid majority of respondents oppose both of the broad tax measures on the ballot. Fifty-eight percent oppose Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s temporary tax increases on high income earners and on retail sales to fund education, while 72 percent oppose Proposition 38, wealthy activist Molly Munger’s measure that would raise income taxes on most Californians, also to fund education.

A plurality of respondents (42 percent) opposed Proposition 39, which requires multistate businesses to calculate their income tax liability based on the percentage of sales in California. The measure would generate roughly $1 billion a year to fund alternative energy programs.

“Our members clearly have no appetite for new taxes,” said BizFed chair John Kelsall, who is also chief executive of the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.

Fifty-three percent of business respondents also oppose local Measure J, which would extend for 30 years – until 2069 – the existing L.A. County half-cent sales tax for transportation projects. But in an interesting twist, the BizFed board earlier this week voted to support Measure J.

“We will work over the next several weeks to educate our members about Measure J,” said BizFed Chief Executive Tracy Rafter.

On the two government reform measures, 55 percent support Proposition 31, which would set up a two-year budget cycle and enact other state government reforms. Sixty-eight percent support Proposition 32, which targets the ability of labor unions to raise funds for political campaigns through deductions from member payrolls.

“Proposition 32 will level the political playing field between unions and other groups by stopping unions from extracting political contributions from their members without their consent,” said BizFed Founding Chair David Fleming, an attorney of counsel to Latham & Watkins LLP.

BizFed is an alliance of 107 business organizations in Los Angeles County representing more than 185,000 businesses. The survey was taken between Sept. 4 and Sept. 21 and generated 486 business respondents