By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Inspired by new polls showing that California voters may pass higher taxes for schools, the race is on to place tax hikes on the November 2012 ballot. But insiders warn of “mutually assured destruction” if multiple tax measures qualify.

It is tough enough persuading voters to approve any tax, but particularly so if voters are confused by competing measures.

Any tax campaign will be built on funding schools rather than the state budget at large. A Field Poll in June found that 59 percent of voters opposed higher taxes to balance the budget. But a University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll last month determined that 64 percent would support higher taxes to increase school funding.

Gov. Jerry Brown and traditional Democratic labor allies are jockeying to ensure their plan emerges alone, but other tax proponents will not go away easily. At least two backers have vast personal fortunes to pay for enough signatures and a subsequent campaign. We assess four major proposals below:

Annual tax projection:

The median California adjusted gross income for joint filers in 2009 was $65,025, according to the Franchise Tax Board. We have estimated the additional tax burden for that filer using data from the FTB, proponents and previous legislative tax analysis.


Likely backers: Brown, Democratic lawmakers, California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union

Amount raised: $7 billion

Tax change: Increases the statewide sales tax by a half-cent. Imposes higher marginal income tax rates on the rich. Places in the constitution a tax shift to local governments to pay for incarceration and other “realigned” state services.

Annual cost for typical taxpayer: $123

Where the money goes: K-12 schools, public safety, social services, higher education, corrections.

Why it could pass: Voters may support taxing the wealthy and providing more money to schools.

Why it could fail: Voters may oppose a higher sales tax. Voters may be skeptical of plan that helps the state general fund budget.

‘Our Children, Our Future’

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