Kevin Faulconer, California Candidate for Governor, Pitches Eliminating State Income Tax for Some

Kevin Faulconer, a Republican candidate running in California's expected recall election against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, has proposed a plan to eliminate income taxes for some residents in the state.

Faulconer said during a campaign event Wednesday that he wants to eliminate California's state income tax for individuals making up to $50,000 a year and households making up to $100,000, in an effort to make the state more affordable for the middle class, the Associated Press reported.

"Too often when we hear about tax relief, they're cuts for investors, for the Wall Street crowd, for the 1%," Faulconer said, according to AP. "This is for young people just starting out, this is for parents who are paying for diapers or college, this is for folks working long days to put food on the table."

If Faulconer were to win, he would need approval from the Democratically controlled state Legislature to enact the plan, as the governor has limited ability to reduce taxes alone.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kevin Faulconer
Former San Diego Mayor and Republican candidate for California governor Kevin Faulconer proposed eliminated the state's income tax for some residents on Wednesday. Above, Faulconer speaks during a news conference in front of Abraham Lincoln High School on February 17, 2021, in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Faulconer, a former two-term San Diego mayor, also attempted to regain the GOP spotlight from two of his main Republican opponents, John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, who have garnered more recent attention.

"It's just too expensive to live in California, period," he told AP ahead of his announcement. "I'm a big believer in going out and winning the argument publicly and then we will win the vote."

Under Faulconer's plan, there would be a 0% marginal income tax rate on the first $50,000 in income for individuals and $100,000 for households. That means people making those amounts or less wouldn't pay state income tax, while those making up to $1 million would see a low effective tax rate.

He announced the plan in Downey, California, a small city southeast of Los Angeles with a median income of just more than $75,000, roughly the same as the median income statewide. He estimated the plan would save individuals nearly $2,000 and families nearly $4,000 annually and said his plan would benefit 99% of taxpayers.

Faulconer estimated his proposed cuts would reduce state revenues by about $15 billion annually and pointed to the state's expected $76 billion surplus this year as evidence the state can afford it. Asked what would happen if the economy tumbled, and if he would slash programs to support a continuing, deep tax cut, Faulconer said such a drastic move wouldn't necessary.

"As mayor, having to balance many budgets, it's about priorities. It's about spending dollars on what's important, on services that Californians actually need and expect and deserve," he said.

He further said Sacramento has a "spending problem" but declined to give any specific details on what views as excess or what he would cut.

California's budget relies heavily on personal income tax from the wealthiest Californians—those making more than $1 million annually—and their taxes would not change under Faulconer's plan.

Republicans regularly complain that California's high taxes make the state unaffordable for people and are causing the rich to flee. They point to high-profile examples of companies such as Oracle and Hewlett Packard moving their headquarters out of California.

Newsom, meanwhile, proposed on Monday giving tax rebates of up to $1,100 to more than 11 million low- and middle-income taxpayers. Taxpayers making between $30,000 and $75,000 would get a one-time $600 rebate. Those making up to $75,000 with children would get an extra $500.

The governor's campaign did not immediately comment on Faulconer's proposal.

Kevin Faulconer AP
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Faulconer speaks during a news conference in the San Pedro section of Los Angeles on February 2, 2021. Jae C. Hong/Associated Press