Reporting Dave Bryan
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — California Governor Jerry Brown Wednesday announced that he had struck a deal to get his tax hike plan on the ballot in November.
The compromise ballot proposition would raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent and it would also raise the state income tax on the top earners.
The deal was a major breakthrough for Governor Brown, who had been wanting to find a way to raise more state revenue. But passing the ballot proposition still will not be easy.
Governor Brown made the announcement in Long Beach at an event celebrating a new jobs-producing Boeing Airliner, which is assembled locally in Southern California.
He said that a deal had been struck with a statewide teachers union to put a compromise proposition on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax and state income tax for the highest earners.
“We’re definitely looking at a winning strategy and having three measures on the ballot is a lot more difficult than two. Of course, one would even be better, but my goal is to balance the budget, which has been in disarray for more than a decade in California,” Governor Brown said.
Concerned that too many competing taxes on the ballot would result in mutual destruction for all of them, the new agreement whittles down the number of possible statewide tax ballot propositions in November from three to two.
“This allow us to broaden our coalition, avoid these competing measures, pragmatism and populism,” said Darrell Steinberg (D), State Senate President.
In pragmatism and populism, the populism would be the millionaire tax, which on Honolulu Street in Monstrose sounded reasonable to Mike Ionescu.
“The millionaire tax, I think everybody should pay their fair share. Now which is the fair share for the millionaire, I cannot tell you,” he said.
But in some parts of L.A. County, there could still be at least three tax propositions on the November ballot — Brown’s raising state taxes, another competing millionaire tax proposition, and a parcel tax by the LAUSD to fund schools.
Claremont-Mckenna Political Science Professor Jack Pitney said that may still be enough to give voters tax fatigue.
“The more tax initiatives on the ballot, the harder sell it is. People see tax-tax-tax and they’re more likely to vote no,” Pitney said. “If they see ‘tax’ too many times, they’ll think, ‘they’re coming to get us.’ And obviously there are radio talk-show hosts who are going to play to that fear. And people are wondering whether the money is going to spent well.”
In Montrose, Charles Eastman sounded like he already had tax fatigue.
“I just don’t want another burden. Already with a shrinking income, you might say, the dollars being extended as much as we had hoped they would be. And if recovery is on the way, well we hear in the news that it’s perhaps here now. It’s taking baby steps in my point of view,” Eastman said.
Eastman is not alone; pollsters say Governor Brown’s ballot initiative raising taxes will have an uphill fight even under the best of conditions.
Brown believes the voters will see that while they do not like raising taxes, the alternative — in this case cutting schools and other essential services — may be even worse. That fear may be his biggest ally.