State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said Thursday he will vote for Gov. Jerry Brown's November ballot initiative to raise taxes, despite concerns about the measure's burden on California's highest-income earners.
Lockyer, who said last year that California had neared its reasonable limit for taxing the rich, told the Sacramento Press Club that the alternative billions of dollars in spending reductions, including to education is intolerable.
"I'm voting for the governor's tax proposal," said Lockyer, a Democrat. "The cuts to education if it doesn't pass are so severe that it will injure our ability to produce an informed citizenry and workforce that we need for the future of California, so I'm a 'yes' vote."
Brown proposes to raise state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. Burdened by higher taxes, Lockyer said, "the potential for out-of-state migration is substantial enough that we have to be very sensitive about those rates."
In a compromise to push a more popular, competing tax measure off the November ballot, the Democratic governor changed his tax initiative in March to include a larger tax increase on the wealthiest Californians than he initially wanted.
Lockyer said Brown had little choice but to alter the measure, adding, "I think he shares the same anxiety about practical impacts of our personal income tax getting high, or higher."
Lockyer's remarks came a day after Brown's tax measure and two others officially qualified for the November ballot. Of the others one that would raise income taxes on all but the poorest Californians and one involving changes to the state's corporate tax formula, Lockyer said, "I reserve judgment."
Lockyer remained quiet about the scandal involving his wife, Nadia, who resigned her position as an Alameda County supervisor after revelations of an affair and substance abuse.
The treasurer and former state attorney general declined to discuss his wife's accusation that he once supplied her with drugs, a claim that Bill Lockyer's spokesman previously denied.
"With respect to the personal matter, yes, I haven't commented much and don't intend to today," Lockyer said.
He alluded to the matter later, however, provoking laughter while discussing rating agencies and California's creditworthiness.
"Have rating agencies in the past been probably too friendly with investors and Wall Street underwriters and others?" Lockyer asked. "Yes, and whether people made money because of low ratings of some issuers? Yes, and was there sort of a co-dependent enabling going on sorry to start answering my last question, earlier but was there some of that going on with respect to the financial institutions? Yeah."