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Jerry Brown Pushes For Tax Proposal

Ryan Faughnder |
March 7, 2012 | 10:05 a.m. PST

Executive Editor


California Governor Jerry Brown is throwing his efforts behind his proposal to raise income and sales taxes amid competition from populist ballot initiatives aimed at raising taxes on millionaires. Brown visited the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board to argue for his plan, which includes a tax hike on people making over $250,000 a year and a half-cent sales tax increase for five years. Failure to pass the measure would result in automatic cuts to K-12 schools. 

Gov. Jerry Brown at LA Live (Ryan Faughnder)
Gov. Jerry Brown at LA Live (Ryan Faughnder)

The proposal is coming under pressure from two competing "millionaires tax" proposals, both of which would funnel the additional revenue directly to schools. Brown told the Chronicle those plans would make California's chronic budget mess even worse than it is now. The competing measures would put no money into the state's general account. "It's not good for schools, it's not good for public safety and it's not good for public confidence, because we go through all this and end up exactly in the mess where we started," Brown said. "People will be angry because they voted for this and nothing happened."

The millionaires tax measures rely too heavily on high-earners' income, Brown argued, which is not a reliable source of revenue, especially compared with a sales tax. Indeed, a major source of California's budget woes is an over-reliance on income tax, which is extremely sensitive to economic conditions. A bad economy means fewer millionaires, which means less taxable income. 

Unfortunately for Brown, the current populist public sentiment has meant his mostly popular proposal is not as widely supported as the one brought by a major teachers group. According to the latest Field Poll, the California Federation of Teacher's millionaires tax initiative has 63 percent support, while Brown's plan has 58 percent support. 

Brown's proposal recently received $630,000 in new contributions, according to the L.A. Times

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