Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Those who believe that California should raise taxes – including Gov. Jerry Brown – to close its budget deficit or increase spending may be forming a circular firing squad.

Four major tax measures, all with well-heeled support and opposition, appear to be headed for the November 2012 ballot, plus a few lesser tax proposals. Voters could be subjected to weeks of confusing propaganda, and their response could be to reject everything.

The Think Long Committee for California – a group of political and civic figures and financed by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen – wants Californians to approve a sweeping tax overhaul that would extend sales taxes to services, simplify the income tax and generate about $10 billion more year.

Molly Munger – the daughter of Charles Munger, Warren Buffet’s chief business partner – wants a sliding scale increase in income taxes to raise $10 billion a year for K-12 and preschool education.

Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer would indirectly boost taxes on out-of-state corporations doing business in California, by changing the way their taxable incomes are calculated, to boost spending on green energy by $1.1 billion a year.

Finally, Brown and his union allies will soon unveil a temporary sales tax hike and income tax surcharge on the affluent to raise about $7 billion a year to close the state’s chronic budget deficit.

If they all make the ballot, not only will voters be bombarded by their advocates and opponents, but they create intramural rivalries.

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