Why is Gov. Brown's tax measure losing ground?

prop303.jpgThis is not quite a eulogy for Proposition 30, but with less than two weeks to go until the election and support for the measure slipping under 50 percent in two polls (LAT and PPIC), it's not looking good. Tax hike plans seldom gain votes in the last few days of a campaign, and this one has been losing them for a while. (Here's an FT overview.) One obvious explanation is that Proposition 30 never had a super amount of support to begin with. Maybe it's because voters don't trust legislators to spend their tax money as it's intended to be spent (for good reason). Proposition 30 opponents, who include supporters of Molly Munger's competing Proposition 38, have leveraged those suspicions. If Proposition 30 were just a soak-the-rich measure, support might be higher. But throw in a quarter-cent sales tax increase and folks are a lot less eager. Which brings to mind a notable lack of urgency about the consequences of not voting yes. Sky-is-falling scenarios only get you so far, especially since the state has been cutting its budget for several years. A final problem, somewhat ironically, is that the economy has been getting better, and voters might be convincing themselves that added tax revenues aren't all that necessary (even though they really are). By the way, Brown's struggles don't say much for the clout of the teachers union, which as you might recall signed on to what became Prop 30 only after the governor beefed up the tax increase on the very wealthy. "This united effort makes victory more likely," he said in cutting the deal. He might have been better off on his own.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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