Republicans decry higher taxes on the rich as class warfare while Democrats defend them as just and necessary. This year in California, voters will have a rare say on the merits of these competing views when they decide the fate of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's gamble to balance the state's shaky budget with a mix of income and sales tax increases.
Initiatives are a dime a dozen in California, but this is the first time any governor has put his tax plan on the ballot rather than try to win approval of it by the Legislature. Brown took this route because while running for governor in 2010 he defused GOP attempts to depict him as a free spender by promising to take any tax increase to the voters. Although this promise may have been "ill-advised," as columnist George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times describes it, Brown intends to keep it.