Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown is in favor of ending temporary taxes under voter-approved Proposition 30.

By Jessica Calefati
Posted: 05/18/2015 – 05:50:33 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO — When Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his revised state budget late last week, the news that California is swimming in black ink rightfully stole the show.

But tucked away on one of the final pages of the 104-page summary of the spending plan was a surprising revelation: Not only will the budget survive when Proposition 30’s temporary taxes are phased out, but general fund revenues are also expected to continue climbing.

In some ways, the startling projection was the opening salvo in what could become a highly charged ideological battle over the 18 months leading up to the November 2016 election — whether to extend taxes the Democratic governor had beseeched voters to pass to prevent California’s fragile education system from crumbling.

Proponents of extending Proposition 30 will argue that the state’s economy is now humming because 55 percent of California voters were wise enough to tax the rich. But Brown, a socially liberal but tightfisted politician, would ironically end up on the same side as a coalition of Republicans, anti-tax zealots and business people determined to lower taxes because they believe that would ultimately lead to a healthier economy with a more reliable revenue stream.

“Politicians sometimes find themselves in strange positions when the lines of battle shift — and clearly this is one of those times,” said Bill Whalen, a veteran GOP strategist who is now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

During the white-hot Proposition 30 debate in 2012, Brown convinced voters to endorse the measure — aimed at bolstering funding for public schools hit hard during the Great Recession — by promising that a quarter-cent sales tax hike and income tax increases on the wealthy would only last several years, until California could get back on its feet.

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