California Governor Vetoes Bills Repealing Taxes on Tampons, Diapers

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California Governor Vetoes Bills Repealing Taxes on Tampons, Diapers

Nicole Knight

The bills to cut the sales tax on menstrual products (AB 1561) and on diapers (AB 717) had won unanimous support in the Democratic-led state assembly and senate.

California’s governor on Tuesday vetoed bills to repeal the sales tax on menstrual items and diapers, bucking a recent trend in at least a half-dozen states that has been cheered by progressives as addressing inequity.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) cited costs in his message accompanying the veto, saying, “Tax breaks are the same as new spending.” Brown repealed the measures as part of a package of bills that would have cost the state $300 million, according to a statement from Brown’s office.

The bills to cut the sales tax on menstrual products (AB 1561) and on diapers (AB 717) had won unanimous support in the Democratic-led state assembly and senate.

The bills’ authors and backers had argued that the sales taxes treat women and families unfairly. They said necessities like diapers, tampons, pads, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups should be exempt from sales tax.

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Forty states tax menstrual hygiene products, considering them luxury or non-essential goods, while exempting products like adult incontinence pads, as the Los Angeles Times reported. Poverty experts have pointed out that tampons and pads are among the products most requested by the homeless and working poor.

The author of the tampon tax bill, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), took to Facebook on Tuesday, saying the fight for a sales tax repeal would march on:

Jerry Brown please #mansplain why it’s ok to balance the budget on women’s backs? He vetoed #AB1561, the unfair #tampontax continues. Email him and give him a call and let him know that your #period is not a luxury. #wrongsideofhistory. I will keep pushing until we get it done.

Forty-three states currently tax diapers, according to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), author of AB 717. She said the repeal on diaper taxes could have saved California families an estimated $100 per child annually, calling Brown’s veto a “disappointing setback.”

“We will continue working to achieve sales tax reform and bridge the diaper gap that forces too many of California’s working families to struggle,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

In his veto message, Brown said tax breaks were best handled in the budget process.