The talk about the three competing tax initiatives is all about Gov. Brown. Can he convince/force the other two measures – one from the California Federation of Teachers and the Courage Campaign (the millionaire’s tax) and the other from civil rights lawyer Molly Munger and the state PTA – to stand down, delay, or join forces with him?

But Brown faces an uphill battle, and a compromise seems unlikely between him and the initiative sponsors.

Still, that doesn’t mean there can’t, or won’t, be a combining of forces.

Indeed, there is a natural way to make the ballot shorter. The two alternatives tax initiatives could, and probably should, combine. And heck, strictly for recreational purposes, I’ll place a small bet here that they do.

Why would a combination make sense?

Politically, the two initiatives are splitting support among those who want a tax initiative that raises more money – and produces real gains for education. (Unlike Brown’s measure, which may not do very much for schools at all – except protect them from more cuts). Since the governor has a broad coalition for his measure, and the support of CTA, his measure will be hard to beat. Besting it would be easier if there were a single alternative.

And there are affinities between backers of the CFT measure and the Munger measure. The efforts are being led by Los Angeles-area progressives (CFT’s Josh Pechthalt, Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs, and Munger) who live less than an hour’s drive from each other. All three can be fiercely ideological, but they are strategic thinkers with pragmatic streaks.

The measures won’t combine easily, but putting them together would not be nearly as difficult as reconciling Brown’s initiative with either one of the alternatives. The natural compromise would be to use the more progressive tax structure of the CFT/Courage Campaign initiative and combine it with the education policy, accountability, and early childhood provisions in the Munger initiative.

The two sides have talked, but I do not know how close they are to an agreement. Whatever they come up with, they need to move soon, since they’ll have to re-file a combined initiative, get it through all the reviews, and collect enough signatures to qualify by late April.