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GOP launches campaign against governor's proposed tax hikes

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POSTED May 3, 2012 8:49 p.m.

 

 

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The California Republican Party and anti-tax groups kicked off a campaign Thursday against Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax hikes before the initiative has even qualified for the November ballot.

GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said he will start the campaign this week in Fresno and Bakersfield, where he will discuss alternatives to tax hikes. People and business are leaving California to go to states with much lower taxes, he said.

"And Jerry Brown is turning in his signatures as we speak to make that (the) highest in the country. We think that's the wrong way to go," he said.

Brown, who continued to push for his proposed tax hikes at a conference of business leaders in San Jose on Thursday, urged the crowd to approve the initiative. He warned that without revenue, the budget "cuts will be pretty darn tough."

When asked to address the Republican campaign against the tax increases, he said he didn't think it required comment. "There's no news here," he said.

The Democratic governor wants to ask California voters this fall to pass temporary tax increases, which he says are needed to avoid billions of dollars in additional spending cuts. Brown's initiative, which has not yet qualified for the ballot, would raise income taxes on people who make more than $250,000 annually and raise the statewide sales tax by a quarter cent, to 7.5 percent.

Brown's initiative could bring in between $6.8 billion and $9 billion in fiscal year 2012-2013. The governor is currently updating the size of the state's deficit, which was pegged at $9.2 billion in January.

Republican lawmakers said those increases will only hurt California's economic recovery. They said the Democratic-controlled Legislature instead should pass public pension reforms and cut elsewhere in the budget to protect education and public safety.

"I think we have a lot of social programs in this state that are going to have to be cut out in order to balance the budget," Assemblyman Jim Silva, R-Sunset Beach, said.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a group that lobbies for health care for the poor, said there are state-funded programs such as community clinics and children's health care that both parties agree have been cut too much.

"I think that (Republicans) know that the basic cuts to core programs like health and human services are already too severe, but that's what their plan would force," Wright said.

The governor said he was certain his team had gathered enough signatures and is expected to begin submitting them soon. The initiative needs 807,615 signatures to qualify for the ballot, higher than the typical 504,760 signatures because it is a constitutional amendment. The last date to qualify for the November ballot is June 28.

Brown also faces a competing tax measure led by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and the California Parent Teacher Association. That campaign, Our Children, Our Future, announced Wednesday that it has begun submitting signatures to Los Angeles County election officials.

Munger's initiative would raise income taxes on nearly all wage earners, with the wealthiest seeing the greatest boost. It is estimated to raise $10 billion to $12 billion annually for 12 years. That money would flow directly to public schools, and lawmakers would have no control over the funds.

John Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said he believes voters are still in no mood for taxes. Voters rejected a temporary sales and vehicle tax extension in May 2009 by a margin of nearly two-thirds.

"We see the California electorate being decidedly on the side of fiscal conservatives and pro-reform politicians and elected officials," Coupal said.

Del Beccaro said raising income taxes on the wealthy would not be good for job growth.

He noted that California ranked last as a state to do business in an opinion survey by Chief Executive magazine. He cited the recent announcement that Capitol One would be pulling 850 jobs out of the Salinas Valley to South Dakota.

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