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Former Gov. Pete Wilson pulled a Jerry Brown?

Former Gov. Pete Wilson pulled a Jerry Brown?

 

When Pete Wilson took the governor’s office in 1991, he also took on a $14 billion budget deficit—at the time the largest budget shortfall in the state’s history.

A nasty fight followed, between the Republican governor and the Democratic-controlled Legislature. But in the summer of that year, Wilson signed a budget that split the deficit burden equally between cuts and tax hikes. About $7 billion was slashed from state programs, and about $7 billion in additional revenue came from tax increases—including higher income taxes on the wealthy.

As per the state constitution, this could only be accomplished with two-thirds support of the state Legislature. Wilson got the votes, just barely, thanks to help from several Republicans who found new taxes distasteful but who voted with Democrats anyway, in order to close the gap. As it turned out, the state economy came back pretty strong after that, and remained strong throughout the rest of the 1990s. Ronald Reagan likewise hiked taxes by $1 billion upon taking the governor’s office in 1967.

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