By David Siders
Published: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 – 7:21 am
Gov. Jerry Brown, starting to campaign in earnest for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, labored Wednesday to put the state parks scandal and other potentially damaging developments at the Capitol behind him, hoping to refocus public attention on schools.
“This is not about any other issue,” said Brown, flanked by students outside New Technology High School in Sacramento. “It’s not about the environment, it’s not about pensions, it’s not about parks. It’s about one simple question: Shall those who’ve been blessed beyond imagination give back 1 or 2 or 3 percent for the next seven years, or shall we take billions out of our schools and colleges to the detriment of the kids standing behind us and the future of our state?”
The appearance, billed by Brown as the “kickoff” to his campaign, was the first in a series of school visits planned to promote Proposition 30, which would raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California’s highest earners. It comes less than two months after the Democratic governor signed a state budget requiring about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges if his measure fails.
Timed to coincide with the beginning of the new academic year, the campaign may help Brown leave behind a series of potential distractions – including the disclosure last month of nearly $54 million in hidden state parks money and the revelation that more than 900 legislative employees received pay raises this year.
Brown also signed legislation last month authorizing initial construction of California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project, a highly controversial bill.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other tax opponents have centered their campaign on the argument that high-speed rail and other expenses are frivolous, and that the Brown administration wastes tax money it already has.
Brown on Wednesday offered his most direct rebuttal yet to that criticism. Asked about the potential impact of the parks scandal on the campaign, Brown said he was prepared for the question and wanted to “exhaust” it.
“You can bring up all the foibles, and you know what? There’s a lot more,” Brown said. “You know, we’ve got a lot of flawed people around here. I’ve got some flaws myself, and you can probably dig ‘em out. And, you know, a lot of people don’t like things about me or what I say.
“And I can tell you things about the Legislature; I could tell you things even about the L.A. Times and the AP and The Sacramento Bee and the media empire. Lots of flaws, I mean, you know they’re losing money all the time. But, having said all that, are you for 30 or are you against 30? I think it’s a pretty self-contained, zero-sum game.”
Public support for Brown’s tax measure remains above 50 percent, but precariously so, according to recent polls. It continues to outrun a competing tax initiative proposed by civil rights lawyer Molly Munger, but her resources for a campaign are significant.
To read entire story, click here.