Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Jerry Brown fancies himself a futurist, exhorting us to act now to ensure a better tomorrow – with a bullet train and a more dependable water system his prime examples.

Their merits notwithstanding, making decisions with long-term benefits is precisely what politicians should – but rarely – do.

One wonders, however, how Brown squares his self-appointed role as progressive pathfinder with his regressive and potentially disastrous approach to the state’s chronic gap between revenue and spending.

While making some reductions in spending – although how permanent is questionable – the first two budgets that Brown signed during his second stint in the governorship were based on shaky revenue assumptions.

The first, in 2011, assumed that $4 billion in previously unseen revenue would magically appear. It didn’t.

The second, this year, assumes that about $6 billion will come from voter approval of sales and income tax hikes in November, no better than a 50-50 bet.

Even were Brown’s tax measure, Proposition 30, to win voter approval, its long-term effect would be to make the state’s fiscal situation even less predictable, and continued budgetary angst even more likely.

The plan’s core is a boost in income taxes on a relative handful of high-income Californians who already pay most of the state’s income taxes and whose taxable incomes are tied largely to stocks and other capital markets.

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