Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday kicked off his campaign to temporarily add a surcharge on the income taxes of those making at least $250,000 a year and raise the sales tax for everyone else.
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Brown's framing his push as a choice between lower taxes or higher funding for public education.
"It's whether the most privileged and blessed people in our state will pay 1, 2, or 3 percent more for seven years
or we cut three weeks of school and take half a billion from our colleges. That's it," Brown said at a news conference outside New Technology High School in Sacramento.
Proposition 30 would raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent for four years and raise taxes on incomes over $250,000 for seven years. The temporary tax increase could mean $6 billion for the state budget.
Educators and students from a state school district surrounded Brown, talking about how $20 billion in budget cuts over the last few years have taken a toll on schools.
Shannon Brown, the 2011 California Teacher of the Year, said, "Budget cuts have resulted in hundreds of layoff notices to teachers; dramatic increases in class size from kindergarten to third grade."
Opponents of Prop. 30 are ready with a message of their own: How can you trust leaders to spend a new annual pot of $6 billion wisely?
Opponents said it will be easy to defeat Brown's tax measure. They just have to point out the recent glaring examples of what they call "'financial mismanagement' of taxpayer money."
Among the examples:
-- despite a state budget still in crisis, the High Speed Rail Project got billions for the first 130-mile segment -- the state's Parks Department had $54 million hidden in two accounts for more than a decade, and an executive secretly offered vacation buyouts -- some lawmakers doled out pay raises up to 5 percent to staffers
The No on Proposition 30 campaign also points out the tax hikes don't fix what's fundamentally wrong with the state budget -- the lack of spending controls.
"Absent any real reforms, there's little likelihood that the budget will balanced over time, and there's a high likelihood that the temporary taxes will become permanent," said Joel Fox of the No on Proposition 30 campaign.
California voters have rejected the last eight statewide tax measures.
Voters will decide on Prop. 30 this November.
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