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Election 2012: Proposition 30

Election 2012: Proposition 30
Election Day is still a ways away, but voting in California actually begins this week as counties send out vote-by-mail ballots. We kick off our look at the 11 statewide measures Californians will decide this fall with a look at Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax initiative.

Ever since he returned to the governor's office, Jerry Brown has had one overarching goal: end the state's persistent budget deficits by winning voter approval on a tax measure. After failing to reach a deal with legislative Republicans, he turned this year to the biggest staple in the California political playbook.

In May, the governor personally turned in voter signatures to place an initiative on the ballot. Proposition 30 would temporarily raise the sales tax a quarter-cent, and raise income taxes on the wealthiest Californians. Here's how Brown framed the stakes at a campaign event in August:

"It's whether the most privileged and blessed people in our state will pay one or two or three percent more for seven years. Or we cut three weeks of school and take a half-a-billion from our colleges."

That approach angered Prop 30 opponents.

"Hey lady! Hand over your purse, or the schools get it!"

This radio ad comes from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. President Jon Coupal said the problem isn't just that the governor is holding schools hostage - it's issues like the state parks scandal and high-speed rail.

"State government is not a good steward of taxpayer money now, and they have not earned the right to even ask for more money," said Coupal.

One last part of Prop 30 is often overlooked: it would constitutionally protect money for Governor Brown's shift of low-level offenders from the state to counties. But the big focus is on the tax increases - and their impact on the state budget.