Jerry Brown announces compromise tax measure for November ballot 

click to enlarge California Governor Jerry Brown speaks in front of a California flag in Long Beach, California March 14, 2012. - LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS
  • Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
  • California Governor Jerry Brown speaks in front of a California flag in Long Beach, California March 14, 2012.

California Jerry Brown and a group that had been campaigning for a rival tax measure for the November ballot will join forces on a hybrid measure asking voters to approve tax increases, Brown's office said on Wednesday.

The new measure will combine parts of the tax measure Brown has been promoting and the so-called Millionaire's Tax advocated by the Restoring California Coalition and spearheaded by the California Federation of Teachers.

It will offer a smaller increase in the state sales tax than Brown had proposed and would impose a higher tax rate only for those earning more than $500,000 a year.

"This united effort makes victory more likely and will go a long way toward balancing our budget and protecting our schools, universities and public safety," Brown said.

Brown, a Democrat, has been pressing his tax measure to circumvent Republicans in the legislature's minority who have enough votes to block tax legislation.

Brown had been seeking to increase the state income tax on earnings above $250,000 and add a half-cent to the state sales tax. The move was designed to raise revenue to help close a projected $9.2 billion budget gap.

The new measure will seek only a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax and raise tax rates beginning with income over $500,000. Joint filers with incomes over $500,000 would face a 1 percent increase, while joint filers with income over $600,000 would see a 2 percent increase and joint filers earnings over $1 million would see a 3 percent income increase.

Income tax increases would be in effect through 2018, and the sales tax increase would end after 2016.

Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers and a co-chair of the Millionaire Tax Campaign, said the measure could raise $2 billion in California's next fiscal year if voters approve it.

Brown has been pressing groups with rival tax measures to end their campaigns because too many tax measure on the same ballot could prompt voters to reject each one, according to political analysts.

Brown and his new allies, whose measure had been polling better than his measure, may still see competition on the November ballot.

Wealthy Southern California attorney Molly Munger is campaigning for a tax measure that would raise income taxes for most Californians, with the exception of the poorest residents.

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