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- 02-12-2012, 11:01 PM #1
California Democrats debate how to raise taxes at statewide convention
By David Siders The Sacramento Bee
Last modified: 2012-02-13T01:30:08Z
Published: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 - 5:30 pm
Copyright 2012 The Sacramento Bee.
SAN DIEGO – Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged Saturday that his tax proposal for the November ballot has a "few issues," but he sidestepped the controversy in a high-profile speech at the California Democratic Party's annual convention.
A growing rift between Democrats about competing measures to raise taxes was evident at the gathering, where supporters of a competing "millionaire's tax" waved banners outside the San Diego Convention Center.
Brown referred only in passing to his tax plan, a major part of his agenda this year.
"Look, we've got some issues. We've got a tax measure, we have a little, few issues there, and we'll be talking about that from time to time," Brown said. "You'll get your marching orders soon enough."
Brown is seeking to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners to forestall further state spending cuts.
His political adviser, Steve Glazer, said on Twitter that Brown raised $750,000 for his tax campaign at a fundraiser following the speech, at a hotel adjacent to the convention center. Brown already had reported raising more than $2 million for the effort.
Brown believes the presence of multiple tax initiatives on the November ballot could hurt the chances of any of them passing. But the Democratic governor has been unable so far to bring his own party together around his initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.
Education advocate Molly Munger is proposing an initiative to raise income taxes on all but the poorest Californians. The daughter of a business partner of Warren Buffett, she has contributed nearly $1 million to her campaign.
The California Federation of Teachers and California Nurses Association, meanwhile, are trying to qualify an initiative to raise income taxes on Californians earning more than $1 million.
Supporters of the millionaire's tax blanketed the convention, and they were cheered at a reception Friday night by Van Jones, an activist and former Obama administration adviser. He told delegates that a tax on top earners would motivate young voters facing large student loan debt and dismal job prospects in a down economy.
"That will get their attention," Jones said. "The idea that the people who have already climbed that ladder have to give back to them, that's the pathway forward I think to electrify that generation."
Outside the convention hall on Saturday, the millionaire's tax initiative was on top of a stack of measures carried by a signature gatherer on a clipboard. Several pages back was Brown's.
As the tax squabble carried on, labor interests – traditionally a major funder of Democratic campaigns – were focusing their attention elsewhere.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, told delegates on Friday that defeating a so-called "paycheck protection" measure is more important than any candidate election this year.
The ballot initiative would block unions and corporations from using automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Supporters of the initiative say it will curb the influence of special interests in elections, while labor unions say it is a targeted effort to reduce their political clout.
Labor unions spent millions of dollars helping Brown defeat billionaire Meg Whitman in the 2010 election.
"This ballot measure is a fraud, it's phony and it's a lie," said Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. "Imagine, just for a moment, a California where your mouths were taped the next time a Meg Whitman ran for governor."
Pérez said Democrats will "fight like hell" to defeat the measure.
California Democrats debate how to raise taxes at statewide convention - Sacramento Politics - California Politics | Sacramento Bee
This is what happens to a failed one party state.