Green Party gubernatorial candidate Laura Wells today announced that her income tax returns for the last seven years are available for scrutiny.
The Democratic and Republican front-runners have yet to release their returns.
Wells’ middle-class financial picture contrasts markedly with those of Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, each of whom has a net worth estimated at around $1 billion.
Democrat Jerry Brown, who owns expensive real estate and whose family runs an oil import business, is backed by two campaign committees with more than $40 million pledged.
All three said in March that they would release their returns if their opponents would do likewise, but none has.
“If the tax returns of all candidates running for Governor in the June primary were released, I believe we would get a very good education about what’s gone wrong in our economy,” Wells said.
“Looking at the way big-money interests control the two ‘Titanic’ parties, it’s not surprising that their elected officials have consistently shifted California’s resources away from the general public and into the pockets of mega-corporations and billionaires,” she added.
Like the majority of Californians who cannot take advantage of tax loopholes for the wealthy, Wells took the standard deduction each year. Her annual gross income in those years varied significantly, but never surpassed $70,000. She has been semi-retired since 2006.
“I’m running because Californians deserve a chance to vote for someone like themselves, not just candidates of the super-rich who cannot understand the struggles of working Californians,” Wells said.
“This Golden State has been good to me – not in terms of gold, as I’m not a millionaire or billionaire, but I do live a happy and fulfilled life,” she added.
“At the same time, I know what it’s like to watch every penny, as so many are doing today. Californians deserve a governor who understands the challenges they face and knows how to help.”
The Green Party and its candidates do not take corporate campaign contributions. Wells said her independence from powerful money interests leaves her free to advocate fiscal policies that would restore California’s economic health “for all Californians, not just the super-rich.”
For example, she would maintain and extend tax breaks for individual homeowners that are contained in the 1978 Proposition 13, but change two key provisions that have dried up funding for schools, bridges, firefighting, and other vital state functions.
Most of the benefit of Prop. 13 has gone to commercial and corporate landowners at the expense of everyone else, she says. She added that the undemocratic requirement for a two-thirds majority vote for the legislature to pass revenue measures leaves the state budget hostage to an extreme minority that has pushed higher taxes on lower-income Californians while ensuring that the richest 1 percent pay the lowest share of their incomes in state taxes.
Wells also calls for establishing a State Bank for California, modeled after the Bank of North Dakota.
“It’s no coincidence that the one state with its own bank has the only state-budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate,” Wells said.
“A State Bank would allow us to keep California’s billions here in the state, rather than exporting them to line pockets on Wall Street. We could invest those funds in education at all levels, infrastructure, and good jobs, including green jobs for the future.”
Wells has run for statewide office twice before, for Controller in 2002 and 2006.