California governor vetoes bill to repeal tampon tax

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday vetoed a bill to end state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, angering women and advocates who call the taxes unjust.

California Governor Jerry Brown leaves the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Audette

Brown, a Democrat, cited imperatives of fiscal restraint and viable revenue streams in blocking the bipartisan bill, which would have added tampons, sanitary napkins and other menstrual products to a list of necessities such as food and prescription medicines that are exempt from sales tax.

Brown also vetoed several similar bills that would have ended certain state taxes for diapers and other items. He said those measures, together with repeal of the tax on feminine hygiene products, would collectively reduce state revenue by $300 million through the coming year.

“Each of these bills creates a new tax break or expands an existing tax break,” Brown said in a statement. “As I said last year, tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the general fund money.”

State Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, chief sponsor of the tampon tax relief bill that passed both houses of the state legislature with unanimous support, railed against the veto in a posting on Facebook.

“Jerry Brown please #mansplain why it’s OK to balance the budget on women’s backs?” she wrote, including a slang portmanteau of “man” and “explain” that is used to disparage men who talk to women in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced measures to abolish their sales taxes on menstrual products. New York repealed its tampon tax in June, joining Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey.

The movement appeals to Republicans because it would repeal a tax and is favored by Democrats, who say it eliminates an unfair burden on women, especially those living in poverty.

Garcia, the California assemblywoman, said she would press on in seeking repeal, vowing to “keep pushing until we get it done.” But it was not immediately clear whether a veto override bid was an option.

Overriding a veto in California requires a two-thirds vote in both the state Senate and Assembly, and the legislative session ended Aug. 31.

Writing and additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Steve Gorman and Matthew Lewis