Gov. Jerry Brown channeled his inner Arnold Schwarzenegger Monday and told a few million of his closest friends that he’s tired of dealing with the Legislature and will go to the ballot to get his tax plan approved.

While the call guarantees 11 more months of fighting over taxes, it also means that California voters will finally have to make a decision. Any decision.

In an “Open Letter to the People of California,” Brown complained that since the Republicans in the Legislature refused to allow a vote on his tax plan earlier this year, “I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year.”

Compare that to Schwarzenegger’s call for reform in his 2005 State of the State address to the Legislature.

“If we here in this chamber don’t work together to reform this government, the people will rise up and reform it themselves. And I will join them.”

Now Schwarzenegger was upset with the Democrats and wanted to balance the budget by cutting services rather than raising taxes, but you get the idea. If legislators won’t cooperate, governors reason, go over their heads to “the People,” who will see the goodness, truth and absolute necessity of the new plan and vote accordingly.

That didn’t work so well for Arnie, who saw voters stomp on all four of his measures in the 2005 special election. But since politicians are by nature optimistic sorts, Brown is confident of a different result.

A look at Brown’s plan shows where he learned from Schwarzenegger’s mistakes.

First, the governor’s plan is a single ballot measure, straightforward and easy to understand. It would raise the income tax by up to two percentage points on individuals making more than $250,000 a year. It also would boost the sales tax by a half-cent, which is still lower than the rate Californian’s were paying before July 1.

Unlike efforts to raise taxes on oil extraction, alcohol sales or tobacco use, Brown’s proposed taxes don’t come with instant enemies willing and able to spend however many millions it takes to defeat the ballot measure. Challenging deep-pocketed interest groups head on makes any victory just that much harder and expensive, as Schwarzenegger found out when he took direct aim at the California Teachers Association and other unions in 2005.

Brown’s betting that in a blue state like California, Democratic voters will ignore the complaints of the anti-tax crusaders, who don’t have the bucks of the liquor, tobacco and oil lobbies. And regardless of what GOP legislators might think, “Lower Taxes for Millionaires” isn’t a winning slogan.

Putting the tax measure on the November 2012 ballot, where President Obama’s re-election effort is likely to bring out plenty of Democratic voters, also gives Brown’s plan a boost that Schwarzenegger’s special election strategy didn’t have.

Keeping it simple allows a straight up or down vote on the tax plan. Polls say voters are willing to boost taxes to keep the services they want? OK, put up or shut up.

Brown also says the $7 billion from the measure can only be used for schools and public safety, which are the political equivalent of Mom and apple pie for voters.

What he doesn’t add, however, is that putting a new $7 billion into schools allows $7 billion the state is now putting into education to be spent elsewhere.

Republicans will make sure voters hear that part of the argument.

Making this a “Brown versus the Legislature” battle also helps. While a Field Poll Monday showed that voters aren’t thrilled with the job the governor has done, they really, really, really don’t like the Legislature. Brown’s 47 percent approval is more than double the 22 percent for the Legislature and that number is actually better than the 20 percent in September and the 16 percent a year before that.

That same poll also showed voters are unhappy with the increasingly likely prospect of automatic budget cuts to K-12 schools, higher education and health care come January and are convinced by a better than three to one margin that the state’s headed in the wrong direction.

Brown took aim at those voters by arguing that the state’s economic picture is “much better than a year ago” and that his tax plan would improve things even more.

“We actually cut state expenses by over $10 billion,” he said. “Spending is now at levels not seen since the seventies. Our state’s credit rating has moved from ‘negative’ to ‘stable,’ laying the foundation for job creation and a stronger economic recovery.”

Without the new taxes, Brown added, “we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts.”

It’s not quite that straightforward a choice, of course. Brown’s still going to have to propose and pass a balanced 2012-13 budget before July 1 that can’t – or at least, shouldn’t – depend on hoped-for revenues from a November 2012 ballot measure.

The governor also needs to convince various Democratic interest groups to deep-six their own tax hike plans for the 2012 ballot if he wants to keep the focus on his own effort.

But as Brown argued last year, it’s not a bad thing to let the voters decide on taxes. If Californians want the level of services the state has provided for so long, they have to pay for them. If they don’t want to spend the money, it’s time for politicians, especially Democratic politicians, to recognize that and move on to Plan B.