They say politics is a rough and tumble business, no quarter given, but I think Governor Brown stepped over the line at his Proposition 30 kickoff press conference yesterday when he brought his dog, Sutter. Dressed in a sweater marked with Yes on Prop 30 stickers, Sutter, was the highlight of the event. He even barked on cue when the governor was introduced responding to the clapping going on around him.
The governor made his arguments for passing Proposition 30 and after he was finished the press covering the event gave me an opportunity for me to make mine.
The governor said a vote on Proposition 30 is a vote on funding the schools. As I pointed out yesterday, the schools get no new money from Prop 30 but the General Fund gets revenue. Given the rhetoric about Prop 30 being about the schools, the facts show Prop 30 is a “shell game” – take the new tax money into a school’s account but move other funds designated for schools into the General Fund to pay for other services.
Brown argued for top income taxpayers to pay more saying, “To those who much has been given, much will be required.” What he didn’t say is that those taxpayers already give plenty and are the foundation of the state’s general fund. The top 1% already pays 40% of the income taxes. California’s reliance on high-end taxpayers has put the state in a fiscal mess during downturns in the economy.
Relying on upper end taxpayers for a bigger chunk of the budget will only make matters worse. As the Legislative Analyst reported, “The revenues raised by this measure could be subject to multibillion dollar swings.” That’s because their income is more sensitive to the economic changes since their income is based more on investment and business rather than relying on wages and salaries.
For an independent view on yesterday’s press conference here is a video and written report by John Myers from the ABC station in Sacramento, in which he discusses whether Prop 30 is really about the schools.
As for Sutter, we’ll have to devise a strategy to counter this clever offensive by the governor and his team. Not only does the governor use the power of his office to help cajole and persuade; he now is using his cute dog to endear him to his audience.
Have you ever heard of anything so underhanded? All right governor, you want to get nasty, I’m thinking of bringing one of my dogs to the next event.