LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he wants California to be the first state to offer access to universal healthcare.
Democrats in the state legislature are also proposing a separate plan that would require a major tax increase.
The governor claims his plan will be paid for through the state's general fund. The governor was asked if he supported the Democratic plan in the legislature and he said he had not read it.
"Universal healthcare for all regardless of preexisting conditions, regardless of the ability to pay and regardless of your immigration status," Newsom said Wednesday in Kern County.
As the governor attempts to sell Californians on universal healthcare for all state residents, including 1.1 million undocumented immigrants, he said the state's multi-billion dollar surplus will help pay for the program and that, ultimately, it will save taxpayers money.
"We have universal healthcare, but it's on the back end," Newsom said. "It's called the emergency room, and it's costing you, the taxpayer, a fortune."
But under a plan proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra, from San Jose, lawmakers would have to vote to raise taxes on people and businesses that earn more than $149,509 a year, which would raise taxes $163 billion a year.
"It's going to be a total disaster," said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of the plan currently in the legislature, who ran against Newsom in the recall election.
Kiley opposes raising taxes to pay for any health plan.
"California is already way overtaxed, you know, worst taxes in the country," Kiley said. "It's why more and more people are leaving the state. It's why we had more people left than came for the first time in state history."
The assemblyman said it's not just the taxes that will hurt California families, it's the increased costs you'll pay for products and services.
"The taxes also go onto businesses and what happens there is they pass them onto consumers," Kiley said. "That's already one of the big problems with California is that taxes on businesses and regulations on businesses are so high that it makes everything so expensive."
Newsom did campaign on universal healthcare when he ran for governor. His proposal may be a popular plan with voters. But any plan to raise taxes may not resonate with residents.
"This is going to be very popular with the progressive base of the Democratic Party," said Professor of Politics at Claremont McKenna College Jack Pitney. "The broader electorate is a different story. This proposal could allow for a very large tax increase and in recent elections, California voters have not been entirely positive about tax increases. Even though they are overwhelmingly Democratic, they doesn't mean they are going to be progressive up and down the line."
On the health plan currently in the legislature, voters will get the final say on whether to raise taxes, if the proposal is passed by lawmakers.
The governor said the current system is not working and costs too much the way it stands.
"Why do you maintain a system that is costly and inefficient and that does not lower costs for everyone?" Newsom asked.
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