Newsom Proposes Scrapping State Taxes on Tampons, Diapers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.  (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Women in the state Legislature have been trying for years to eliminate California's sales taxes on diapers, tampons and other hygiene products, but were thwarted by former Gov. Jerry Brown, who twice vetoed such proposals, citing budgetary concerns.

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But there's a new captain at the helm — and he's throwing his full weight behind the idea.

At a meeting with the Legislative Women's Caucus, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced plans to include the parent-friendly sales tax exemptions in his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. The move would cost the state upward of $56 million a year in lost tax revenue, according to previous estimates.

But the governor's office argued that giving working families financial breathing room, particularly on items they have little choice but to purchase, is worth it. Newsom has four young kids of his own, and often mentions the influence of personal experience in his policymaking decisions.

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"As anyone who takes care of kids can tell you — these costs add up," Newsom said in a written statement in advance of his announcement. "From diapers to childcare, raising kids is expensive wherever you live. But when you factor in the cost of living here in California, it is close to impossible."

Unlike most food and medicine, tampons and diapers are not exempt from California sales tax because they are technically considered luxuries, not necessities.

To date, 10 other states, including New York, Florida, Connecticut and, most recently, Nevada, have banned sales taxes on period products. Across the globe, Canada, India and Australia have long since eliminated the tax, and a battle is currently underway to end it in the United Kingdom.

Newsom's office said the tax exemptions were part of his "parents agenda" aimed at making things easier for families in the Golden State. Other proposals he unveiled Tuesday include increasing a tax credit for low-income families, expanding the number of families that qualify for it and increasing funding for CalWORKS, which provides child care assistance for parents participating in California's welfare-to-work program.

The new proposals will be included in Newsom's updated 2019-20 budget proposal that he plans to unveil Thursday. They are in addition to a series of family-friendly policies Newsom already unveiled in his first budget proposal in January, such as increasing paid family leave by two weeks and expanding state-subsidized child care facilities.

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