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Some Worry Competing Ballot Measures will Confuse Voters

Brown Wants November 2012 Proposition to Fund Education

December 15, 2011

On December 5, Governor Jerry Brown formally proposed his long-awaited ballot measure that he said would “generate nearly $7 billion in dedicated funding to protect education and public safety. I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high,” said Gov. Brown. The ballot measure is intended to go before voters in the November 2012 election. In an “Open Letter to the People of California,” the Governor added:

“My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education. Here are the details:

• Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase.

• There will be a temporary ½ cent increase in the sales tax. Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.

• This initiative dedicates funding only to education and public safety—not on other programs that we simply cannot afford.

This initiative will not solve all of our fiscal problems. But it will stop further cuts to education and public safety.

I ask you to join with me to get our state back on track.

The results of a statewide poll – conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) – were released a week later (December 12). The poll found that “most Californians favor Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax and the income taxes of high earners,”  according to the PPIC. The poll found that 65 percent of all adults and 60 percent of likely voters favor the proposal, while 28 percent of adults and 36 percent of likely voters oppose it. The PPIC also announced:

The survey offers an early look at Californians’ views of the plan the governor hopes to put before voters in November to help close the budget deficit. It would raise $7 billion a year by increasing the sales tax a half-cent for four years and the income taxes of individuals earning more than $250,000 for five years.

Brown’s proposal—and competing tax plans being offered by others—comes at a time when nearly all Californians (93%) say the state’s budget situation is a problem. Most residents (62%) say their local government services—those provided by cities, counties, and public schools—have been affected a lot by recent budget cuts.
In Brown’s plan, money from the tax increases would go to K–12 schools. When Californians are asked a follow-up question about how they view his proposal if new revenue were to go directly to schools, 70 percent of all adults and 58 percent of likely voters favor it (27% all adults, 37% likely voters opposed).

"The governor’s plan includes some of the most popular ideas for raising taxes—higher taxes on the wealthy and more money for schools,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. "At the same time, the major challenges in asking Californians to pass state tax increases are the low approval ratings of state elected officials and high levels of distrust in government.”

With K–12 education making up a large share of the expected "trigger cuts,” a strong majority (85%) of Californians are concerned (53% very, 32% somewhat) about the potential effects on public schools.

Brown’s announcement on Dec. 5 came a week after the California State PTA endorsed a different ballot measure that is also being prepared for the November 2012 election, known as the “Our Children, Our Future: Local Schools and Early Education Act.” News reports indicate that as many as three more education-related ballot propositions could be proposed as well.

Brown acknowledged on Tuesday (Dec. 13) as he announced $1 billion in “trigger cuts” that he will face an uphill battle in selling his tax plan to voters, particularly because he could face competing tax measures that might confuse voters.

"I don't take it for granted. I think this is going to be a very difficult campaign to win the revenues," Brown said.

Source:  Governorís Press Office, California State PTA, California Secretary of Stateís Office