California governor wants to end tax on tampons, diapers

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Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support Tuesday for a proposal to eliminate sales taxes on diapers and feminine hygiene products, as a part of his "Parents' Agenda" to help struggling California families make ends meet. 

The Governor met with members of the Legislative Women's Caucus. 

"Children and babies are going with dirty diapers, reusing diapers and parents are feeling the stress of that. This is a societal issue," said Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a Democrat from San Diego.

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom said the goal is to have "a California where every parent will have the support they need to build the best possible future for their children." 

The governor also spoke about ending the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, which some lawmakers say is a medical necessity. 

"I hear from women who tell me they just don't go to work when they can't afford these products," said Assembly member Cristina Garcia, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

"On the issue of menstrual products, " said Gov. Newsom, "It's not the most comfortable place to be standing talking about these issues, I'm just being honest about that, perhaps it's my Irish Catholic heritage, but it's important, so guys, yeah, pay attention."

In Oakland, the diaper pantry at St. Vincent De Paul's Alameda County Women's Center provides thousands of diapers to families who might not be able to afford the $35 per box. 

"This is a closet that we have with some of the diapers that are ready to give out in different sizes," said Blase Bova, the Executive Director. Bova says diapers are in high demand. She says it's a simple but expensive necessity for many families, struggling to make ends meet.

"Poverty impacts people's lives in ways that we don't always think of, that we take for granted," said Bova.

Governor Newsom's predecessor Jerry Brown had not supported similar legislation because of the loss of revenue.

The state could lose an estimated $35 million dollars in taxes on diapers. Another $20 million from feminine products. 

Newsom says he also will be setting aside $130-million for child care initiatives, and proposes offsetting the cost with $80-million from Prop. 64 cannabis revenues.

Some people say they hope the diaper and feminine product  tax break goes through. 

"There's so many taxes in California, environmental taxes, road taxes. A little bit of a break for small things at home would mean a lot for everybody," said Herbert Borlagdatan of Vallejo.

Marcell Lloyd, director of St. Vincent's de Paul's women's shelter says the tax breaks could help the social service group help more people.
Others, however, say while they like the Parents Agenda. The state needs to devote funds too for housing and education.

"Honestly, I don't think it's a bad idea but I think Oakland has a bigger priorities than just feminine products and diapers," said Nia Dural, an Oakland resident who supports the tax breaks, but says the state needs to figure out a way to compensate for the lost funds. 

Another part of the Governor's Parents Agenda includes extending the paid family leave time from six weeks to eight weeks. 

"There’s no government programs that can substitute the time with a loved one. And for fiscal conservatives I would imagine that perhaps there’s no more important issue than paid family leave… if you want to reduce the cost to government, if you want to increase the trajectory in terms of the opportunity of a young child’s life than you gotta begin at the beginning," said Newsom. 

The Governor is expected to reveal his revised May budget on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.