Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown mum on tax pledge

Gov. Jerry Brown declined to say Friday if he will maintain the pledge he made in 2010 not to raise taxes without a public vote if – as is widely expected – he wins re-election in November.

Asked if his 4-year-old tax pledge would extend into next term, Brown said he is focused on Propositions 1 and 2, the $7.5 billion water bond and a budget reserve measure on the ballot.

“There’s a lot of issues and relevant issues, some less so, some more so,” Brown told The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board. “But I, I’m sticking to 1 and 2. And there’s a lot of things on the ballot. And there’s a lot of things in the Legislature. And there’s a lot of things that will pop up between now and November and now and January, but … I’m going to be restrained in my commentary going forward.”

The tax pledge was a significant part of Brown’s 2010 campaign. Facing stiff opposition from a well-funded Republican, Meg Whitman, Brown used the pledge to help position himself as a moderate. In 2012, he pushed a successful initiative campaign for Proposition 30, which raised taxes for schools. Democrats could earn a two-thirds margin in both houses of the Legislature after this election, which would allow them to pass tax increases to Brown’s desk without Republican support. Democrats had supermajorities for part of the current session, but did not send Brown any tax increase bills.

Dan Newman, a political spokesman for Brown, said in an email that Brown is “vigorously advocating for Prop 2’s Rainy Day Fund so that when economic progress eventually slows, we won’t once again be forced to choose between tax hikes and painful cuts to schools, as occurred when he took office and had to dig out from under a $27 billion deficit via tough cuts and Prop 30’s voter-approved temporary taxes.”

This year, the Democratic governor is far ahead of his Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, in both fundraising and public opinion polls.

Brown was talking with The Bee’s editorial board to promote Propositions 1 and 2. Brown is expected to feature prominently in the ballot measure campaign. The campaign committee he used for his successful ballot initiative to raise taxes in 2012 was repurposed for the effort.

The account had about $2.9 million left over, and the campaign for Propositions 1 and 2 has raised about $2.5 million more this month.

Asked how much he expects to spend on the campaign, Brown said “we’re still raising money” but that the effort will be “significant.”

The water bond and reserve account measures enjoy bipartisan support, including from Kashkari.

However, he said they do not go far enough.

“They’re better than nothing,” he told reporters at a campaign stop in North Highlands on Friday. “That’s kind of what I could say about his governorship.”

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