Gov. Jerry Brown sounded resigned to facing competition with his tax proposal on November’s ballot in comments he made Monday to the Police Chief’s Association and to reporters afterward.
Proponents of two other proposals, the California Federation of Teachers’ so-called Millionaire’s tax and wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger’s broad-based tax for schools, have rejected Brown’s entreaties to back off and are actively gathering signatures to get on the ballot.
That’s forced Brown to take his case to the public, arguing before editorial board meetings and various groups that his is the only plan that tames the deficit and seeks to avoid what could be further painful cuts in social services, schools, police and fire services.
“I take the world as we find it,” he told reporters. “Active conversations are going on. But I can tell you the zeal is very intense on those who wish to have their particular measure.”
Brown has expressed fears that having more than one proposal on the ballot could doom them all.
A survey last week by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Brown’s measure losing ground, dropping in support from 67 percent to 52 percent, though Brown said that the lower number tracks with his own internal polling.
“I think we can get it done,” he said. “If I can get most of the newspapers to editorialize for it, if I can get all the major businesses, from health care companies to insurance to Indian tribes, if I can get the Democratic party, if I can get all the trade unions except one, I believe I can pass it, you got a fighting chance. And that’s what I’m going for.
“I’m not going to try therapy sessions for those who have different perspectives,” he added.
In putting together a coalition of labor and business to back his tax proposal, Brown said he’s now got to reach out to “core Democratic voters,” who have been drawn to the more populist Millionaire’s tax.
When asked whether his allies will go on the attack against the two other tax measures, Brown used a little subtlety and some Latin to respond:
“I generally think campaigns don’t always stay on the high ground,” Brown said forebodingly.
He added: “I did mention Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes,” a quote from philosopher Thomas Hobbes, which means “the war of all against all,” though Brown had a slightly different translation on this day, saying it means, “government is needed to bring civilization and harmony to an otherwise fractious crowd, so I think there’ll be a little less harmony and a little more more fraction as we go forward; hopefully not too much.”
He commiserated with the police chiefs group, saying, “you cops know what it is to work in a tough neighborhood. I’m working in a tough neighborhood.”
Brown said he wasn’t surprised that anti-tax groups have backed out on their spending cap initiative, saying “they probably don’t have the money.”
Where they will have the money, and where their efforts will be, is the “paycheck protection” measure, Brown said.
“That will be the state cause of note, and that will probably be the national cause,” he said. “I think that’s where conservatives will put the money.”