In the fast paced debate between an often smiling Neel Kashkari and a resolute Jerry Brown, the governor emphasized his record over the last four years, which polls indicate voters believe in. But, as the governor said at least three times, the success he was touting was, in part, a product of Proposition 30, the temporary tax increase measure voters passed in 2012. He said Prop 30 was used to fund his education reform program, his prison realignment program at the county level and higher education.
Proposition 30 is due to phase out in a couple of years. The follow up question: What then?
Will the governor support making the tax permanent? Already leading statewide officials have either called for the Prop 30 taxes to continue or suggested there will be an effort to continue them.
The governor pointed out in the debate that Kashkari opposed Prop 30 so it is assumed the former U.S. treasury official would not support the tax’s continuance if he were elected governor. What about Brown? He promised all tax increases must go before the voters. Will he encourage that to happen if he is re-elected?
It was a good debate showing a well-prepared, aggressive Kashkari with the political skills to focus on his message. The veteran Brown fired off a couple of sharp attacks on Kashkari’s Goldman Sachs background and tried to fend off some of Kashkari’s charges with a dismissive attitude. Standing on a record Brown continually promoted that the state is better off today than it was four years ago when he assumed office will probably be good enough to keep his strong lead in the polls.
But the state’s current standing Brown hailed over the course of the evening is built on a shaky foundation of temporary taxes. It would have been interesting and important to know what the candidates expect do when the Prop 30 taxes end.
The entire debate can be found here.