The dispute under way between Gov. Jerry Brown on one side and the Mungers on the other probably would not happen anywhere but in California.
As you probably know, the governor is touting Prop 30, which would raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent and income taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000. This would raise a little more than $6 billion to help plug the state budget deficit. If Prop. 30 fails, then some fairly draconian budget cuts would kick in automatically.
Liberal Los Angeles attorney and multimillionaire Molly Munger, meanwhile, is promoting Prop. 38, which would raise about $10 billion annually from a broadly based income tax increase, and would restrict use of the money to schools.
Her brother, Stanford physicist, also a multimillionaire, and a conservative is spending his millions to oppose Brown’s initiative, and also to promote Prop. 32, which would restrict how unions can spend their members’ money on political campaigning.
Where else, besides possibly New York or Texas, would you have millionaires battling it out over taxes that other people would have to pay? Or trying to control how unions use their members’ money, although you don’t belong to a union?
It reminds one a little of a reality show, one in which it is easy to become fascinated with the activities of the stars (Brown and the Mungers). Who are you rooting for? The governor? The lawyer? The physicist?
The Associated Press, in reporting on this, quotes polls that indicate the governor’s proposition may have the best likelihood — although a narrow one — of passage.
But if the questions were posed like this: Do you think you need to pay more sales taxes and more income taxes than you do now? Would either of them pass? Who knows? This is California. Maybe they’ll both pass, along with Prop. 32 for good measure.