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California Senate leader calls for paring tax proposals on ballot

February 16, 2012 |  2:13 pm

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell SteinbergDemocratic leaders in the state Legislature are getting nervous about the possibility of three competing tax measures going onto the November ballot and voters sending all of them down in flames.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told reporters Thursday that two of the proposals should drop from contention this year so that Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has a better chance of passing. Closed-door negotiations aimed at paring the ballot measures are very active, he said.

"It’s getting to be crunch time here," Steinberg said. "The real problem is that if you have multiple measures on the ballot, you dramatically increase the likelihood that they will all fail. That’s not an acceptable outcome."

Brown has proposed a ballot measure that would increase income taxes on those making more than $250,000 per year and hike sales taxes to raise $6.8 billion annually for five years.

But Los Angeles attorney Molly Munger hopes to qualify an initiative with a broader income tax increase, and the California Federation of Teachers is planning a measure to raise taxes on millionaires.

Steinberg said Munger’s broader tax hike is "fraught with some electoral peril," while the millionaires' tax will draw a well-funded opposition.

"It’s time to get behind the governor’s tax initiative,'' Steinberg said, adding that the governor should be given some deference on the matter because he is elected by the state's voters.


California's glut of tax hike initiatives

Time for a truce on tax hike initiatives

Dueling tax hike measures pushed as Democrats hold convention

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wants to reduce the number of tax measures on the November ballot. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press