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Government & Politics

Brown Now "Open" To New Taxes Without Voter Approval

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California Governor Jerry Brown says he’s changed his position on taxes now that he’s been elected to another term. He says he’s open to new taxes that would fund road maintenance and health coverage for low-income Californians. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Brown in 2010 TV ad: “I’m Jerry Brown. California needs major changes…”

It was a core promise of his 2010 campaign:

Brown in 2010 TV ad: “…and no new taxes without voter approval.”

But this week, Jerry Brown called two special legislative sessions as part of the state budget deal – one on transportation, the other on Medi-Cal – and he says both could lead to tax increases on products from gasoline to tobacco. The governor reminded reporters that the state no longer faces a massive budget deficit.

Brown: “I said I wasn’t going to raise taxes unless the people said that’s what they wanted through an initiative. And I kept my promise. When I ran the second time, I didn’t say that – and you didn’t ask me. So we’ll have to leave that as an open question.”

But that logic is backwards to Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff:

Huff: “Back when he was making that promise, we were still emerging out of the worst recession we’ve had since the Great Depression. Well, here we are at $14 billion unanticipated revenue. We’re awash in money. And yet they want to go back to the till and raise taxes without asking people about it?”

Huff says any special session tax proposals should go to the voters.

The governor’s office says Brown remains opposed to extending Proposition 30, the temporary tax measure voters passed in 2012. As for any taxes that emerge from the special sessions…

Brown: “We’ll have to look at those.”