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Diaper, Tampon Sales Tax Exemption Bills In Jeopardy

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters in Sacramento on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Among the nearly 800 bills sitting on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk are a slew of measures that seek to create new tax breaks or exemptions. Some, like sales tax exemptions for diapers and tampons, passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support.

But it's highly unlikely that Brown will sign those bills.

Just last week, the governor vetoed a bill that would have created an obscure new sales tax exemption. His veto message spoke louder than the veto itself: “New sales tax exemptions, like new spending on programs, need to be considered comprehensively as part of the budget deliberations.”

And last year, Brown used a similar justification as he issued a mass veto message of nine bills that would have created or expanded tax credits.

Asked Wednesday after speaking to a symposium in Sacramento how he’s approaching bills on his desk with new tax cuts or spending, Brown replied: “Dour and skeptical.”

He even sounded dour.

This does not bode well for potentially popular measures like sales tax exemptions on diapers and tampons that drew zero “No” votes on the Senate and Assembly floors.

The author of the diaper bill, Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), acknowledges the governor’s point about spending, but says diapers and tampons are true necessities.

“I always say, I love this governor, but he’s never had kids,“ Gonzalez told Capital Public Radio on the Legislature's final night of session last week. “And sometimes I think he needs to keep seeing these things to understand what an issue it is. Even some of us with children sometimes, if you’re upper-middle class or upper class, don’t really think about the burden that we’re placing on young families.”

Brown has until September 30th to act on the 789 bills currently on his desk.

The governor joked to reporters Wednesday that some of the measures “are not so interesting because they’re not all that important.“

But Brown quickly added that many of the bills are important, “and I’m having a very good time reading it all. It’s like a mini-Ph.D in government structure and policy.”

Meanwhile, the governor’s office has announced that Brown will sign two measures Thursday in Los Angeles that set California’s new climate change agenda for the next decade.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio