Gov. Jerry Brown announces newly revised tax initiative

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After negotiations with the Restoring California Coalition, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday that has rewritten his tax initiative in an effort to clear out competing initiatives from the upcoming November ballot.

The new version would increase the proposed tax on Californians in the highest annual income bracket — $500,000 for singles and $1 million for couples — by 3 percentage points instead of 2 points as Brown had previously proposed. The new version would also only increase state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage instead of a half a percentage point.

Brown called the markedly more progressive tax plan “a winning strategy” on Wednesday. The coalition consists of the California Federation of Teachers, California Calls, the Courage Campaign and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

The new initiative is a combination of Brown’s original plan and a competing initiative called “The Millionaires Tax,” which included no sales tax increase and a two tiered increase on California’s millionaires.

“All the polling shows that a more progressive tax approach is more likely to pass with progressive voters,” said California Federation of Teachers spokesperson Fred Glass.

For the past few months, Brown’s own initiative has seen diminishing support, partly because voters have been split among various competing initiatives. If voters reject Brown’s initiative, he has said the UC and CSU will each suffer $200 million in cuts.

A March 7 poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California found that just 52 percent of likely voters supported the original initiative — a slim majority.

Now, the agreement between Brown and the coalition may give Brown the support he needs to get his plan passed come November.

But the relatively late timing of the changes places incredible pressure on Brown to get his initiative on the upcoming ballot.

Once the new version of the initiative is filed, the Legislative Analyst’s Office has 45 days to provide fiscal analysis to Attorney General Kamala Harris, who will then decide the text of the petition.

Campaigners will then have until early May to submit more than 1 million signatures in order to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Curan Mehra covers higher education.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Gov. Jerry Brown’s quotation referring to the revised tax plan as “a winning strategy” was made when Brown was at a Capitol press conference. In fact, Brown said it at a Boeing facility in Southern California.