Will Californians Trust Jerry Brown Enough to Vote for His Tax Increase?
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called Monday a “day of reckoning.” In the morning, he outlined more than $8 billion in cuts to higher education, social safety-net programs, and the state court system, among other things. Massive protest rallies ensued across the state.
In the afternoon, Governor Brown used two key words that politicians don’t often use, especially lately: “please” and “temporarily.”
“I’m linking these serious budget reductions … with a plea to voters,” he said in a Los Angeles press conference. “Please increase taxes temporarily.”
Indeed, Brown’s strategy is to warn of cuts so drastic that a tax increase starts to look more palatable. Specifically, the governor is proposing a four-year, quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax, along with a seven-year surtax of 1 to 3 percent on Californians earning $250,000 or more.
Now, the question is: Will Californians go for the proposal on the November ballot?
Two recent polls say yes. A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll in March found that 64 percent support the hike, and a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll in April found 54 percent in favor. But some analysts are not so sure. Complicating factors are a long, hot summer before the vote, high unemployment, and a competing tax initiative on the ballot.
“My best guess is that Brown will fall short. He is asking for trust, which is in mighty short supply in this state,” says via e-mail Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.