Brown's Tax Measures Threatened

 

Governor Jerry Brown's tax measure campaign to balance the state budget with new income and sales taxes came under attack this past week.

Brown has been selling his temporary sales and income tax increases to voters as being necessary to protect schools and public safety.  However, a new report on school finance from the Legislature's main budget analyst, Mac Taylor, states that were Brown's taxes to be increased, his budget would continue to reduce California's per-pupil spending.  Essentially all of the school money in the package would just pay schools what the state already owes them.

On another front, Molly Munger, a wealthy civil rights attorney, has publicly declared that she intends to spend whatever is necessary to place her own $10 billion-a-year income tax increase just for schools on the same November ballot, she contends it would boost per-pupil spending by an average of more than $1,500 per year.

Brown has repeatedly stated his intentions for there to be only one tax measure on the ballot, fearing that multiple measures would confuse voters and perhaps lead them to reject all.  He was successful in persuading the Think Long Committee for California to suspend its complex tax reform campaign, but Munger is moving ahead despite Brown’s efforts.

The PTA has endorsed Munger’s initiative proposal.  The PTA's endorsement of Munger also indicates that the Education Coalition, a quarter-century-old organization dedicated to school financing, may be developing cracks.  The California Teachers Association has endorsed Brown's measure while the smaller California Federation of Teachers has its own school finance plan.

Taylor's report widens that fissure because it bolsters complaints of some school groups that as Brown talks about helping schools, he doesn't actually propose any new money, and meanwhile threatens to reduce school funds even more should his tax measure fail.

Taylor's report says schools would get $87 per pupil per year less if the Brown plan is approved by the Legislature and voters, and $459 less if it fails.