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Proposition 30: Gov. Brown's Tax Initiative

Oct 9, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown announced the kickoff of the Yes On 30 campaign earlier this summer in Sacramento
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Election Day is still weeks away, but voting in California actually begins this week as counties send out vote-by-mail ballots. Today, we kick off our look at the 11 statewide measures Californians will decide this fall – and we begin with Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Ever since he returned to the governor’s office, Jerry Brown has had one overarching goal: end the state’s persistent budget deficits by winning voter approval on a tax measure. After failing to reach a deal with legislative Republicans, he turned this year to the biggest staple in the California political playbook.

In May, the governor personally turned in voter signatures to place an initiative on the ballot. Proposition 30 would temporarily raise the sales tax a quarter-cent, and raise income taxes on the wealthiest Californians. Here’s how Brown framed the stakes at a campaign event in August:

“It’s whether the most privileged and blessed people in our state will pay one or two or three percent more for seven years. Or we cut three weeks of school and take a half-a-billion from our colleges.”

That approach angers Prop 30 opponents. This radio ad comes from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:

“Hey lady! Hand over your purse, or the schools get it!”

President Jon Coupal says the problem isn’t just that the governor is holding schools hostage – it’s issues like the state parks scandal and high-speed rail.

“State government is not a good steward of taxpayer money now, and they have not earned the right to even ask for more money.”

One last part of Prop 30 is often overlooked: It would constitutionally protect money for Governor Brown’s shift of low-level offenders from the state to counties. But the big focus is on the tax increases – and their impact on the state budget.