Last week wasn’t so good for Jerry Brown. First the Public Policy Institute of California put out a poll that found that the Governor’s measure was favored by only a very slim majority of California voters at 52% approval. This number is 16% below where it was in a January PPIC poll and, if accurate, pretty much dooms it. What changed? In this survey, people were given the actual language that will be on the ballot (including the regressive sales tax), which appears to kill voter enthusiasm.
Making matters worse for Brown and company, another poll followed this one that eviscerates one of the governor’s main arguments. This poll confirms that a majority of Californians would prefer to have a choice of tax measures on the ballot. As pollster Amy Levin of the Benenson Strategy Group noted, “voters are far more likely to believe there should be multiple measures on the ballot so they can decide (53%) than to say that we should have only one to ensure we make progress (38%). Even among voters favorable to Gov. Brown, just 43% side with him on this issue, compared to 49% who prefer multiple initiatives.” Only 8% of voters opposed either measure because “there are just too many tax proposals on the ballot.” The poll also found that the Millionaires Tax is still widely favored even with three measures on the ballot.
Worse still for Brown were the results of the poll that found that his measure continues to trail the Millionaires Tax badly. More specifically, before opposition arguments are introduced, the Millionaires tax is supported by 69% of voters, the Governor’s measure is favored by 56% of voters, with Molly Munger’s measure trailing the pack at 40%.
But it gets worse for the Governor’s measure after opposition arguments are introduced. The Millionaires Tax takes a small hit and moves down from 69% to 64%, but the Governor’s measure tanks, sinking to 46% with the Munger proposal diving to a mere 17% approval.
The take away from this is clear: the Millionaires Tax is the only measure that can pass after opposition arguments are introduced and thus it is the best hope Californians have for bringing in much needed revenue for education and vital pubic services. It brings in the most money, is ongoing, and will easily pass while the other measures do less and/or are effectively dead in the water after weathering attacks.
The response from the 1% (who Brown thinks he has bought off by adding a regressive tax and making his measure temporary) was predictable with the Business Roundtable threatening to “aggressively” fundraise against the MT while trotting out the “job killer” argument despite the complete lack of any credible evidence that this is true. Indeed, as Warren Buffet has noted, job creation was actually much more robust back when taxes were higher on the wealthy.
More dismaying than the usual BS from the corporate crew, however, are the outright falsehoods coming from the leadership of the California Teachers Association (who also cut a deal with Brown). More specifically, the CTA put out a flyer last week that makes up bogus text from the Millionaires Tax claiming that the revenue from the MT can’t be used to fund programs funded by the state. The problem with this argument is that there is nothing in the text of the Millionaires Tax that actually says this—hence the CTA claim is a bald-faced lie.
In addition to this prevarication, the CTA flyer also claims that the Governor’s measure would increase Prop 98 funding by 5 billion when, in fact, the Governor’s own budget projects that it would bring in half that number.
OK, so what’s the big deal? People lie all the time in politics, right? While that is certainly true, what is really reprehensible about CTA leadership’s role as Jerry’s attack dog is that they are fighting side by side with the Business Roundtable and some of the most reactionary forces in California politics against their fellow teachers and union brothers and sisters—and the interests of their own rank and file members, particularly those in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego where there is overt support for the Millionaires Tax.
Why haven’t the Roundtable folks endorsed Brown’s measure yet? They are waiting to see if he loosens environmental and other regulations before they come to the table with more support.
They also want to see Brown go after pensions. Not to worry CTA union brothers and sisters, Occidental Petroleum and the Hospital lobby are already on board with you, but the Roundtable needs one last special favor before they can pull the trigger. Be patient, maybe Brown will deliver for them and gut your pensions. Then you’ll be in good company indeed.
Want to take a shower yet, fellow teachers? The best thing you can do is to tell the sell-out statewide leadership of the CTA to go to hell and stand with your fellow workers and the vast majority of Californians rather than big money.