Governor Jerry Brown returned to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to give a similar speech to the one he gave last year— seeking support for his tax plan. Last year, his proposal was in the legislature, this time he had an initiative to sell. However, the business people I talked to in the audience were non-committal on the taxes, especially if the taxes were not accompanied by other reforms such as spending limits and pension reform.

In fact, the first applause line for the governor came when he called for pension reform. He received no major applause when discussing the taxes.  He did not mention spending limits but acknowledged at the beginning of his talk that California spends more money than it collects.

Brown argued that his tax increase proposal was half of what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger steered through the legislature. Brown said his tax plan was half as big and half as long as Schwarzenegger’s tax increase.

The tax increase may actually be less than half the $12 billion in taxes Schwarzenegger supported. It depends on whose analysis one believes– the Department of Finances $6.9 billion projection or the Legislative Analyst’s more conservative $4-plus billion speculation.  But, Schwarzenegger’s temporary taxes lasted two years. Brown is proposing a five-year run for his temporary taxes.

Brown urged the business community to join with labor to “build for the future, not steal from it.” He said the complaints he hears now about the inability to compromise are the same ones he heard when he was first governor 35 years ago.

During a press conference following his speech, the governor said the business community was responding “heroically” in helping to finance his campaign. His campaign kitty has received contributions from some businesses.

He also acknowledged the validity of concerns about doing business in California but claimed the California business environment was also listed 49th in the country when he was first governor and said other states have problems being business friendly.

Brown promised the chamber that he would fix California’s problems in a couple of years and the streets would be “paved in gold.”

Skeptics might think he was referring to taxpayers’ gold.