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Tony Manolatos

Brown to San Diego: Tax yourselves or else!

San Diego Politics & Media Mashup

If you believe Governor Jerry Brown, all of us are going to suffer if we don’t agree to tax ourselves more this November.

It’s a tired sales pitch we hear too often from California lawmakers, but that didn’t stop Brown from trying to play on our fears when he visited San Diego on Monday.

The first paragraph in the U-T San Diego’s story on Brown’s press conference framed the governor’s hyperbole this way:

Jerry Brown on Monday in San Diego peddled his tax measure to raise $6 billion annually for education and other state services, promising “real suffering by you and really our whole future” if the proposal fails in November.

There is a lot I admire about the governor, but he is on the wrong side of this issue and his messaging isn’t exactly the stuff of legend.

Maybe no one told him San Diegans aren’t wild about the tax-yourselves-or-else approach.

Two years ago, Proposition D, a proposed sales tax increase, failed miserably in San Diego. The Yes on D folks told voters early and often that if they did not vote for the tax hike they would not be as safe because there would be police and fire department cuts. Those cuts never materialized. In fact, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders recently announced the city’s structural deficit is a thing of the past.

I checked with a reporter to see what the impact would be in San Diego if voters reject Governor Brown’s tax plan. I was told the alternative gaining the most traction is a simple one — labor-backed school board members would move to try and shorten the school year by two weeks.

That’s not good news. Hardly the stuff I picture, however, when I think of real suffering.

Tony Krvaric, the local GOP chair, had a slightly different take.

“Do I hear 4 weeks? Any takers for 5? #gimmeabreak #mafiatactics #unionthuggery” he tweeted.

Despite the critics, I don’t expect Brown’s ominous talking points to change much as he crisscrosses the state trying to convince Californians to support Proposition 30. So expect to hear more of this:

  • This is not only important, it’s vital. Without it, all of us will suffer.
  • I mean it. All of us are going to suffer. I can’t stress that enough. There will be great suffering.
  • This really is a tax on the rich.
  • We’ve made great strides in Sacramento since I took office.
  • Help me help you.

Here is what you won’t hear the governor say:

  • California is bleeding jobs because it’s one of the least business-friendly states in the nation.
  • He can’t get Democrats in Sacramento to agree on substantive pension reform.
  • Officials recently discovered the parks department was operating with a hidden surplus of $54 million.

On Monday, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association released a radio ad highlighting the parks department’s hidden surplus. The ad is called, “What else are they keeping from you?” It ends by encouraging listeners to sign an online petition to demand reforms, not higher taxes, from the governor and legislature.

Brown’s visit to San Diego lit up Twitter and Facebook, and the responses I saw were less than encouraging.

“Real story is Sacramento failed yet again to pass a balanced budget. Prop. 30 won’t fix that,” tweeted Jeffrey Barker.

On Facebook, KOGO’s LaDona Harvey wrote: “Just spoke with California Governor Jerry Brown about his tax increase ballot initiative. He is glib, and he is nice…and I am still not voting for it! Clean up the house first, Sacramento!”

Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Monday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.


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