Judge's decision points Gov. Brown's tax initiative toward top spot
A Sacramento Superior Court judge Monday dismissed a challenge from initiative proponent Molly Munger, who had sought to ensure her tax measure appeared before one backed by Gov. Jerry Brown on the November ballot.
Judge Michael Kenny dismissed Munger’s claim, saying her attorneys were asking him to “essentially micromanage the registrar’s office.” He agreed to delay the ruling until 5 p.m. Monday to give Munger’s legal team a chance to appeal.
The ruling clears the way for the Secretary of State to set the order for measures on the November ballot, where Brown’s call for higher income and sales taxes is expected to be placed above all other initiatives.
Munger’s attorneys focused their legal challenge on signature tallying in Los Angeles County. Munger’s campaign handed in signed petitions more than a week before Brown’s campaign in Los Angeles, but county election officials reported the results of Brown’s tally before the count of the Munger initiative. That helped place Brown’s measure before Munger’s in the ballot order.
Democrats in the Legislature also gave Brown’s measure a boost last month, passing a bill that moved constitutional measures such as Brown’s ahead of all other initiatives on the ballot. Lawmakers made the maneuver as part of this year’s budget, allowing it to take effect immediately.
Munger had originally challenged the Legislature’s move in her original court filing, but her attorneys did not press that point in court.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said after the judge’s ruling that his group was weighing a separate legal challenge on the constitutional issue. “We are reaping what has happened with one-party, dictatorial rule in the state of California,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to help the governor in the passage of his tax-increase proposal.”
-- Anthony York in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown in Jan. 2011. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press