The governor only needs a simple majority, but support for Proposition 30, which would increase the state sales tax and the personal income tax for the wealthy, is just polling in the low- to mid-50s - and that was before a new barrage of opposition ads. They're being financed, strangely enough, by the children of billionaire Charles Munger. Attorney Molly Munger has her own proposal - Proposition 38 - which would hike taxes on all but the poorest income earners (this one really makes the most sense). Her brother, Charles Munger Jr., is both attacking Brown's initiative and pushing Proposition 32, which would bar unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for politics. Molly Munger's initiative is very unlikely to pass, but Brown supporters have worried that voters will turn down both measures, especially after negative advertising that's being financed by Charles Munger. That's what often happens on competing propositions. Both Proposition 30 and 38 are aimed at funding education, but there's considerable disagreement as to how effective they would be. From the Sacramento Bee:
"This is an absolutely unprecedented situation in California politics," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. "The approach that Molly Munger is taking is very similar to what a candidate would do who's down in the polls weeks before an election." As counties issued mail ballots this week, the Munger ads sent chills through education circles. School districts have placed big bets that Brown's initiative would pass in November, planning to eliminate school days and cut programs if voters reject Proposition 30. Emails and conversations within the education community suggested the possibility of "murder-suicide," a scenario in which Munger's ads lead both multibillion-dollar tax initiatives to defeat.
"In a certain sense, both of these people -- the Mungers - - are sort of policy entrepreneurs," said Jack Citrin, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "They have ideas, they want to implement them, they know they can't get it through the Legislature, so they have this opportunity." Apart from the initiative process, any state tax increase would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Molly Munger dismissed criticism of her use of family wealth to shape California politics. "I've given years of my life to influence policy," she said. "I've trudged around Sacramento. To me, being able to help a big coalition of people fight for kids is just a natural extension of work that I've done for a very long time."
One more problem for Brown, at least according to County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas: Measure J, the proposal being pushed by Mayor Villraigosa, that would extend the countywide transit tax by another 30 years (it's already in place through 2039). From the LAT:
Ridley-Thomas, whose district stretches from Carson to Culver City, was one of three board members at the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority who voted against putting Measure J on the ballot last summer. Although he did not explicitly identify himself as an opponent of Measure J, he characterized the proposal as "ill advised" and "not fully baked." "In an environment where ... people are asking, 'Why are we being hit by so many different tax proposals,' it is nothing more than a distraction," he said.
*Interesting. From the Sacramento Bee:
Molly Munger, who has spent nearly $36 million on tax initiative Proposition 38, said she believed her brother was not financing the campaign against a rival tax increase measure, Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30. Charles Munger Jr. has contributed $22 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, designed to both oppose Brown's tax measure and to support Proposition 32, a campaign finance measure aimed at curbing union power. Her brother, she said, "has assured me his money is going to 32 and not 30. I don't know where they're getting their money...The first time he put money into that PAC, I called him and said, 'What are you doing? And he said, 'I'm doing what I always said I was doing, I'm backing 32 ... He said, 'It's all for 32, that's my deal with that PAC.'"