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For taxes, better later than sooner, economist says

February 1, 2013 |  9:00 am

Brown Prop 30 sign

Gov. Jerry Brown has been pushing to raise taxes since soon after he took office in 2011, but it may be a good thing he wasn't successful until recently, a top Los Angeles County economist said Thursday.

Robert Kleinhenz, the chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said raising taxes earlier in Brown's term could have harmed California's economic recovery.

"We were still reeling from the recession," he said at a lunch hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. "It could have taken an already dire situation and made it worse."

In his first year in office, Brown was unable to persuade Republicans to help him place a tax measure on the ballot, which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Eventually he spearheaded a petition drive to collect enough signatures to bypass lawmakers and ask voters to raise taxes.

Voters approved the governor's tax measure, Proposition 30, in November, temporarily raising the sales tax and levies on the wealthy.

Kleinhenz said the higher taxes, especially the sales tax, could "take the edge off" the state's economic recovery but said he doubted it could be derailed at this point.

"We've got enough momentum in the economy to move forward," he said

Gil Duran, a spokesman for the governor, declined comment.


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown holds up a sign to support Proposition 30. Source: Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press