In a final weekend of campaigning, Gov. Jerry Brown is asking everyone from students to venture capitalists to lend a hand in pushing his struggling $6 billion tax increase across the finish line. T
he Democratic governor was expected to make several appearances in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon to rally the phone bankers and precinct walkers who are part of his final statewide effort to sway undecided voters and boost turnout for Tuesday's election.
Recent public opinion polls show a narrow path to victory for Proposition 30, which would help close California's budget deficit by raising the state sales tax a quarter cent for four years and hiking income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000 annually.
At a Silicon Valley lunch on Friday, Brown said the initiative had a ``very good chance'' of success if supporters do not get complacent. The fate of the measure will have a deep impact on Brown's next two years in office, and failure could mean deep cuts for California's public universities and grade schools.
The California Teachers Association and the California Labor Union held joint rallies in Sacramento Saturday morning to kick off a final get out the vote effort in support of Proposition 30. As Brown's campaigning has intensified, the pool of available votes has been shrinking because of the growing popularity of absentee voting. An estimated 3.5 million voters have already cast their ballots by mail.
However, supporters see reasons for optimism in the changing composition of the state electorate. California reached a record number of registered voters this fall, with the majority signing up through the state's new online system. Voters who registered online tended to be younger and lean Democratic.
On Friday, Brown addressed the criticism that a new tax on high-income earners could spur business owners and other job creators to flee the state. Speaking to a room full of power players at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's annual public policy lunch, Brown cited a study that found millionaires are more likely to leave California because of divorce than high taxes.
``What it says is the biggest factor in millionaires moving out of California is divorce,'' Brown said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
From the outset, Proposition 30 supporters have emphasized the importance of winning over every possible voter. But Brown has encountered more roadblocks than he originally anticipated, including a rival tax initiative by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger and a well-financed opposition campaign supported in part by her brother, Charles Jr.
A Field Poll released Thursday found support for the initiative, which Brown has called his top priority for the year, had slipped to 48 percent in favor, with 14 percent still undecided. In an interview with on KABC radio in Los Angeles on Friday morning, Brown warned listeners against sitting out what has turned out to be an exceedingly close contest.
``We're getting down to the wire here, so it's real important that people look at their ballot pamphlet and get ready to vote,'' he said.
``This is not a run away by any matter, but I think there's a solid base of support,'' he later added.
``I think the reason for that is if you look at who's going pay the tax; basically less than 1 or 2 percent of those who are voting. And who is going to get the benefit? Millions of kids and families.''