SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Progressing causes that female lawmakers have been pushing for years, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he wants to extend paid family leave and eliminate sales tax on diapers and female hygiene products in his upcoming budget proposal.
Newsom believes the state’s coffers can withstand losing the estimated $35 million generated annually from the sales of diapers and tampons, and still afford to help families struggling in a state with notorious poverty and income inequity.
“We can afford to do that and it’s the right thing to do,” Newsom told reporters.
Newsom previewed the plan Tuesday at his press office, sandwiched between his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom and several prominent female lawmakers.
The Democrat said the push is part of his “agenda on affordability” intended to provide relief for low- and middle-income families fighting California’s exorbitant living costs. Along with the tax breaks, Newsom wants to implement a $1,000 tax credit for families with children under 6 and more money toward child care services.
Exact details are expected when Newsom pitches his revised budget Thursday, but he hinted some of the funding will come from taxes raised by recreational marijuana.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, thanked Newsom for embracing the push to end taxes on diapers. Gonzalez, who is pushing legislation to do the very same thing, said one out of three California families struggle to properly diaper their children.
“This is a societal issue, and we know that this tax break will give the average family in California $100-$120 per year, per child,” Gonzalez Fletcher said.
If the tax breaks are cleared by the Legislature, California would become the 12th state to bar taxes on tampons and pads and the ninth to drop sales tax on diapers.
The Legislature passed bills eliminating the taxes in recent years, but they were vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown who cautioned about the impact on the state’s general fund.
In his January budget proposal, Newsom called for expanding a child tax credit to $500 per year for low-income families. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the plan could cost taxpayers $240 million per year.
But with recent income tax returns outpacing expectations, an emboldened Newsom wants to double the credit to $1,000 per year. He’s also backing legislation to increase state-mandated pregnancy leave from the current six to eight weeks per parent.
Newsom said he was “humbled” and “enlivened” to back the causes female lawmakers revived after being denied by Brown.
“I’m really here to amplify their efforts; these announcements that we are making today are efforts that have been underway for years, and years and years,” Newsom said.
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