Corporate tax change headed to ballot over Jerry Brown's objections
Hedge fund manager and Democratic philanthropist Tom Steyer announced Friday that he has submitted more than 955,000 petition signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would change corporate tax rules and raise about $1 billion annually to be split between state-funded clean-energy projects and the general budget.
Steyer said he has discussed his measure with Brown, who has made it clear in recent weeks that he would rather Steyer abandon his proposal.
Steyer said that was a change from when he first told the governor about his initiative months ago. "He was enthusiastic and supportive," Steyer said of the governor then. "We talked to him about it several times."
But as the deadline to qualify measures for the fall ballot approached, Brown began to get concerned, Steyer said.
"At the end, he started to get nervous about the clutter on the ballot," he said. "I definitely got the impression that he would rather us not go forward."
The governor has also tried, and failed, to convince Pasadena attorney Molly Munger to drop a proposed income-tax increase that Brown views as competition to his tax package. Munger's campaign announced that it also has begun submitting signatures to election officials to begin the qualification process for the November ballot.
Brown initiative spokesman Steve Glazer did not immediately comment on Steyer's remarks. The governor is out of state, and his office refuses to say where he is.
Though refusing to defer to the governor, Steyer said he would abandon his initiative if Assembly Speaker John A. Perez can get a plan through the Legislature that would make similar tax changes but use the money for UC and CSU scholarships. That would require a two-thirds, bipartisan vote.
-- Anthony York in Sacramento
Photo: Tom Steyer in 2010. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times