You know Gov. Brown that 'wingnut' and 'extreme' liberal. Lol
OAKLAND, Calif. — For nearly two months, Gov. Jerry Brown has been immersed in a furious effort to win the support of the Legislature for his proposal to close a $26.6 billion budget gap with spending cuts and by asking voters to approve $12 billion in taxes in a special election this June.
Yet even if Mr. Brown rallies the Legislature behind the plan in the coming weeks — no small matter, given that he needs the support of two-thirds of lawmakers to put a tax measure on the ballot — the fight in Sacramento might prove to be the easy part.
Mr. Brown would then face the challenge of persuading voters to support extensions of sales, personal and vehicle registration taxes in a national environment where hostility to taxes is soaring, and in a state that, no matter its propensity for electing Democrats, has repeatedly rejected tax initiatives. And one of the major national antitax advocates — Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform — has intervened, pressuring Republicans here not to give Mr. Brown the votes to put the measure on the ballot, and pledging to make certain voters defeat it if they do.
The stakes are high, not only for the future of a state that has been under fiscal siege for three years — without the tax increases, Mr. Brown and lawmakers would have to make $26.6 billion in cuts — but for Mr. Brown’s governorship as well.
“It’s tough; it’s very tough,” said John A. Perez, a Democrat who is the speaker of the Assembly. “But it’s doable.”
Even with the cloud of uncertainty in Sacramento, Mr. Brown’s aides and Democratic leaders have quietly begun laying the groundwork for a campaign on behalf of the tax extensions that is expected to cost $40 million to $60 million, a huge amount of money reflecting the cost of statewide television advertising here. Much of that money would come from state labor unions. Labor groups are already running polls and conducting focus groups that have, officials said, found great but not insurmountable resistance to tax increases.
One lesson from those polls and focus groups that Mr. Brown has already incorporated into his speeches: emphasizing that these are extensions of taxes that people are already paying, rather than new taxes.
Mr. Brown’s advisers have studied the tactics used one of the few times voters supported a tax increase — in 1993, when Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, won approval for an extension of a half-cent sales tax.
Mr. Brown’s aides said it was critical that the measure be perceived as having bipartisan support in the polarized capital, even if it meant just counting the five Republican lawmakers Mr. Brown will need to reach the two-thirds threshold. (In 1993, Mr. Wilson and the Assembly speaker at the time, Willie L. Brown Jr., a Democrat, teamed up to campaign for the half-cent sales tax extension.)
Democrats plan to directly link the tax surcharges to education and public safety. (Mr. Wilson linked his sales tax surcharge to saving public safety jobs; it did not hurt that in the midst of the campaign, some of the worst wildfires in the history of California swept the hills of Malibu, producing images of firefighters in action on the evening news.)
In addition, Democrats said, Mr. Brown would seek to make the case that after years of stopgap approaches to the state’s mounting budget problems, this one would, barring any calamity, legitimately balance the budget and put the state on a road to normalcy.
“Most of the surveys we review say essentially the same thing: If the people believe that this is a fair solution and that it actually has the real possibility of putting the fiscal crisis behind us, that they will support it,” said Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat and the president pro tem of the State Senate. “People want us to get on with it.”