Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Gov. Jerry Brown spent much of last week trying to scare California voters into voting for higher taxes.

Brown, speaking to community college students in San Diego, promised “real suffering by you and really our whole future” if voters reject his sales and income tax measure, Proposition 30.

It’s a somewhat disingenuous argument, albeit a clever one, rooted in the poll-tested assumption that education is the single most popular state program.

While Proposition 30’s proceeds would be technically routed into K-12 schools and community colleges, they would largely pay for a long-standing constitutional commitment, while freeing up billions to spend on other, less popular services.

Conversely, however, if Proposition 30 fails, Brown and the Legislature have decreed that education funds would be whacked, thereby creating a doomsday scenario in hopes that voters will respond by passing the measure.

Is it working? It’s too early to say for certain, but a comprehensive new poll finds that while most voters appear inclined to vote for Proposition 30, the margin of approval is very thin, and arguments against it resonate strongly.

The poll, conducted for Policy Analysis for California Education, an education think tank, and the University of California’s Rossier School of Education, echoed other recent polls showing that Proposition 30’s support is a few points over a majority.

Ominously, however, just 35.1 percent of voters agreed with a summary of Brown’s argument about taxing the wealthy more for schools and public safety.

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