Dan Morain

By Dan Morain, Senior editor
Published: Sunday, Sep. 9, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 6E

As the young ‘uns preened on a national stage in Charlotte, Gov. Jerry Brown stepped out of his Sacramento loft and into his Pontiac a few minutes before 9 the other morning. He was focused on the issue that matters most to him, an initiative that would raise taxes by $6 billion a year.

No matter how liberal they are, politicians who think they have a bright future generally don’t wrap themselves around tax hike proposals. But Brown’s horizon doesn’t extend much beyond Nov. 6, the day that voters will decide Proposition 30, and likely determine the success or failure of his third term as governor.

On Thursday, Brown’s first stop was The Bee’s editorial board, where he sought an endorsement of Proposition 30. It’s a tough sell. Proposition 30 would raise sales taxes by a quarter percentage point, or $1 billion a year for four years, and soak couples’ earnings in excess of $500,000 with higher income taxes, generating $5 billion a year for seven years.

This initiative wasn’t his first choice. But it’s the one that he thinks voters will accept. The alternative would be ugly, $6 billion in cuts mostly to public schools and universities. Brown knows voters might perceive talk of looming reductions as a threat. But he is at a loss to explain it in any other way.

“There is no exit here. It is either the taxes, (or) the cuts,” Brown said.

As he dwelled on California issues, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Speaker John A. Pérez rubbed elbows and speechified at the Democratic National Convention.

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