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Governor Brown's tax-initiative signatures delivered

May 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Jerry Brown's tax initiative apparently has enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. But it has some competition. It's the battle of the two tax plans.

With "First Dog" Sutter in tow, Governor Brown hoisted some boxes himself and turned in some of the million-and-a-half signatures for his tax initiative that aims to help stabilize the fragile state budget.

"We're giving the people a chance to raise income taxes on the very highest income-earners and a quarter-cent sales tax for four years," said Brown. "It's balanced. It's fair. And it will take a major step forward in putting California in a very solid position."

A competing proposal by wealthy attorney Molly Munger and the California State PTA turned in their signatures earlier this week, but their version raises the income tax on a sliding scale on Californians who earn at least $7,300 a year and gives the money directly to schools.

Brown's measure will bring in about $8- to $9 billion to state coffers in the first year to save education and public safety from deeper cuts.

"I need to get this initiative passed, so that's my focus," said Brown. "And all the other people involved in other things, God bless them, but I've got my job right now."

If both tax initiatives qualify, the choices worry people like community-college professor Dean Murakami, who thinks both proposals could be voted down.

"When people see that there are alternatives, they may move toward one and not vote for the other, and it spreads out the vote. And that's the problem," said Murakami.

Governor Brown's campaign team has already begun shooting commercials to sell his temporary tax hike to voters. But the opposition is ready to take him on.

"Just like the lottery did for education decades ago, we saw a lot of existing educational funds siphoned away to pay for other things. This initiative is yet another iteration of that," said Matt Gray, CalSmallBiz.com president and CEO.

If somehow voters approve both proposals, the courts will likely have to decide which one will take effect.


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