The governor tells Marc Cooper that he's just not going there - too much opposition, even if taxes are only raised on commercial property. "I don't reject any idea out of hand--everything is possible," Brown says in the Pacific Standard interview. "But lots of businesses are hurting--you increase their property taxes, that'll be a problem." He also defends his ballot measure to increase personal income taxes on the very wealthy, saying he'd like to see broader tax reform but that this stands the best chance of passage. Some snippets:
MC: What about other reforms, like doing away with the two-thirds majority needed to raise taxes?
JB: You can't get [the legislature] to lower the two-thirds on taxes, you've got to put it before the people. It's all up to the voters. I took the path I felt had the highest probability of success, and it is by no means guaranteed. So we're moving forward carefully. Reform is always on the table, but people who say they're going to transform whole systems have to be careful.
JB: Because things are rarely transformed. That's not how it works. When I was in the seminary, there were all these treatises on perfection. You know, how to become perfect, how to get rid of all your faults. Didn't happen. After doing meditation, after doing penance, after reading the ascetical treatises, the lives of the saints, you wind up pretty much where you started from. You know, some people said they were going to go to Washington and were going to transform Washington. But it doesn't look like Washington has been transformed. Even the Adams/Jefferson race was nasty. Not much has changed since. You can only get incremental change except in times of massive crisis. War, depression--that is when you have brief moments when you can make a decisive move. I think we have had some of those moments. Whether we have made the decisive moves is another question.
MC: The challenge. So what's the best scenario after your tenure--where are we in two or three years?
JB: We have balance, and people feel confidence in our fiscal management. We have our water plan launched, our cap and trade is working, our prison realignment is reducing recidivism at a lower cost, we've gotten some reform in our educational funding--being more successful particularly among low-income families. We are building our track for our high-speed rail. Our trade and ports are humming along, and the environmental leadership of California has been picked up by other states in the nation.