SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Despite unanimous support from the Legislature, California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday vetoed a bill to eliminate the state’s tax on tampons — citing the state’s “precariously balanced” budget.
Assembly Bill 1561 called for eliminating sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, a bipartisan effort that would have saved California women an estimated $20 million per year in taxes.
Brown’s veto of the tampon tax bill was just one of seven he issued Tuesday, all of them involving the creation or expansion of tax breaks that would have reduced revenues by $300 million in the coming year alone, Brown said.
“As I said last year, tax breaks are the same as new spending — they both cost the general fund money,” Brown said in his blanket veto message. “As such, they must be considered during budget deliberations so that all spending proposals are weighed against each other at the same time. This is even more important when the state’s budget remains precariously balanced.”
Another of Brown’s vetoes involved making diapers up to size 3 exempt from sales tax.
California was prepared to join states such as New York, Minnesota and New Jersey in trashing the tampon tax. Meanwhile, the Golden State’s tax code exempts prescription medication for conditions like erectile dysfunction and items like walkers and medical identification tags.
Similar proposals were defeated by lawmakers in Utah and Tennessee this year as well.
The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, blasted Brown over the veto.
“Fundamentally this is about gender equity and leveling the field. This is a sad day for women in the state and it’s even sadder that we are sending the wrong message to the rest of our nation,” Garcia said in a statement. “Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner from Illinois and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed similar pieces of legislation this year. It’s clear Gov. Brown is on the wrong side of history.”
She added, “Today Gov. Brown sent a clear message to all women in California. He told us periods are a luxury for women. Let me be clear; biologically periods are not luxuries and they are definitely not something women should be ashamed of. We have a long way to go in our journey for equity in California.
“Men purchase Viagra and they don’t get taxed. There is no other such tax that’s gender-specific in the tax code. Women matter and we need to send that message to the governor.”
According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, sanitary protection sales totaled more than $3 billion nationwide in 2015 with state sales-tax rates ranging from 2.9 to 7.5 percent. Local sales-tax rates can vary as well, such as Chicago’s recently raised 10.25 percent tax rate.
Given the bipartisan support to end the tampon tax there may still be hope: lawmakers can override Brown’s veto with a 2/3 vote in the Assembly and Senate.
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