The governor, announcing a signature-gathering effort to place a measure to raise income and sales taxes on the November 2012 ballot, says he wants to avoid partisan gridlock in the Capitol.

By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
December 5, 2011, 10:24 p.m.

Reporting from Sacramento— In what he called an end-run around Sacramento’s partisan gridlock, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday unveiled his bid to raise taxes on high earners and boost the sales tax by a half-cent for the next five years.

Brown wants to increase income taxes by 1% to 2% for individuals making $250,000 or more, in addition to the sales-tax hike, and hopes to qualify the proposal for next November’s ballot. The new revenue — up to $6.8 billion per year for the five years, according to administration estimates — would be used to fund public schools and guarantee money for counties to house more inmates in local jails instead of in state prisons.

The governor announced the proposal, which he called “straightforward and fair,” in a press release, an email to supporters and a Twitter post Monday.

“It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education” and public safety, Brown wrote.

The governor has been telling Californians for almost a year that he wants them to have a chance to approve higher taxes as an alternative to deeper state budget cuts. He urged state lawmakers to place a proposal for increased sales, income and vehicle taxes before voters last spring but was stymied by unanimous Republican opposition.

In his statement Monday, Brown said he is turning to a signature-gathering effort to put his ideas on the ballot. “I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year,” he wrote. “The stakes are too high.”

Republicans immediately dismissed the proposal.

“Voters rejected similar tax increases in the past and have shown a strong reluctance in polls to accepting higher taxes to bail out Sacramento,” said a statement by the leader of the Assembly’s GOP caucus, Connie Conway of Tulare.

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