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Brown calls his tax 'superior,' tackles budget gap

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POSTED March 20, 2012 7:49 p.m.

 

 

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The governor on Tuesday countered new ads airing in Los Angeles and San Francisco for a tax proposal that competes with one he is proposing for the November ballot, saying his measure is superior because it would help fund schools and address California's $9.2 billion budget deficit.

Gov. Jerry Brown made the case for just one tax initiative, suggesting the competing proposal by wealthy Los Angeles attorney Molly Munger lacked broad support among voters and special interests.

"The taxes I'm proposing — the sales and the very high income people — goes to the schools," Brown told reporters before speaking to a group of optometrists in Sacramento.

He said the new tax revenue would help the state meet its funding requirements for public schools, which would then free up discretionary money for social services and public safety programs.

Brown said his wife, Anne Gust Brown, who serves as the governor's unpaid adviser, exchanged emails with Munger. But there has been no compromise so far involving the competing measures.

"It was a cordial exchange, let me put it that way," he said. "It certainly left things as they are with a fierce campaign on the horizon, which I'm fully prepared for."

A message left for Munger's campaign wasn't immediately returned. Republicans have said the governor's tax would hurt the state's economic recovery and hit families when they can't afford to pay more.

Brown's proposal would temporarily raise the state's sales and income tax on people who make $250,000 or more. Munger's proposed initiative would raise income taxes on a sliding scale for nearly all wage-earners to help fund schools.

The governor said his proposal was crafted by budget experts as well as local governments, teachers and others that have a stake in state spending. He said Munger's initiative would lock the state into new spending while his would provide more funding for public safety.

"I think on balance, ours is far superior, it's fair and a lot more people are open to it," he said.

Munger's campaign, "Our Children, Our Future," is running a 30-second ad that emphasizes how the proposed ballot measure would benefit schools and communities by bypassing Sacramento. The tax hike would raise $10 billion to $12 billion annually for 12 years.

Brown is projecting his tax initiative would raise as much as $9 billion but a review released Friday by the nonpartisan analyst's office estimates revenue of $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2012-13. The governor said Tuesday that he's comfortable with whatever amount the taxes will bring in.

The governor amended his tax proposal last week after striking a compromise with a teachers union. The California Federation of Teachers was joined in its effort, known as the Restoring California Coalition, by the advocacy group Courage Campaign.

The deal leaves voters with potentially two tax proposals rather than three on the fall ballot.

The governor and his allies are now fast-tracking the revised initiative proposal to meet a June 28 deadline to qualify it for the general election ballot.

Brown said he doesn't expect to lose business support even though his revised tax proposal would last seven years, rather than five, and raise upper income taxes by up to 3 percent, instead of 2 percent.

"My goal is to use the money from the tax measure, if it passes, to pay for the programs, pay down debt and get ready for the next recession with a reserve," the Democratic governor said.

It seeks to raise the sales tax by a quarter cent for four years, instead of a half cent, starting in 2013. It also would increase income taxes on high earners by an extra 1 percent for individuals making more than $250,000, 2 percent for individuals making more than $300,000 and 3 percent for individuals making more than $500,000. The threshold doubles for joint filers.

 

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