With clock ticking, Gov. Jerry Brown tries to assuage voters' fears
“I’m always looking for waste," he said. "I don’t even like to spend money."
Brown, who studied to become a priest five decades ago before leaving the seminary, joked that, "I’m the only governor to ever take a vow of poverty. I took a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience."
He added, "I’ll just focus on the poverty," drawing laughter from the crowd of about 100 who attended the luncheon.
Throughout the campaign, Brown has combated entrenched cynicism about how state government spends taxpayer money, and his tax hike plan is a close call with voters just days before the election Tuesday. The governor wants to raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years and increase income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percentage points for seven years.
Without the taxes, Brown says, there will be nearly $6 billion in budget cuts, mostly to public schools. That worries Weston Jackson, 17, of North Hollywood High School, who asked Brown if he had a backup plan was if the taxes fail.The governor said there was no acceptable alternative to cutting spending on education unless the state gets more tax revenue.
The answer didn't put Jackson's mind at ease.
"I’d hate to see the proposition not pass and his strategy backfire," he said, adding, "I think it’s kind of a gamble that’s very risky.”
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks from a podium underneath the space shuttle Endeavour on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA via Associated Press