The governor on Tuesday countered new ads airing in Los Angeles and San Francisco for a tax proposal that competes with one he is proposing for the November ballot, saying his measure is superior because it would help fund schools and address California's $9.2 billion budget deficit.
Gov. Jerry Brown made the case for just one tax initiative, suggesting the competing proposal by wealthy Los Angeles attorney Molly Munger lacked broad support among voters.
"The taxes I'm proposing the sales and the very high income people goes to the schools,'' Brown told reporters before speaking to a group of optometrists in Sacramento.
He said the new tax revenue would help the state meet its funding requirements for public schools, which would then free up discretionary money for social services and public safety programs.
Supporters of Munger's initiative say her initiative bypasses Sacramento and sends money directly to schools. The new ad campaign by ``Our Children, Our Future'' appeals to voters by saying California is ranked 47th in the nation in per student funding. The campaign declined to say how much it spent on the ads.
Just a fraction of Munger's initiative would help the state deficit. It allocates about $3 billion a year for the first four years to pay off school bond debt, which frees up general fund money for other programs such as health care.
"We realize that the budget is more than education, but we also realize we have a generation of kids who have taken the brunt of cuts and they can't wait any longer,'' said Patty Scripter, legislative director for the California State Parent Teacher Association.
Republicans have said higher taxes would hurt the state's economic recovery and hit families when they can't afford to pay more.
Kevin Gordon, a budget adviser to school districts, said the two proposals have different goals. Brown is trying to maintain the current level of school funding while closing the budget gap while Munger's initiative focuses solely on public education by restoring recent school cuts and funding future growth.
Brown's proposal would temporarily raise the state's sales and income tax on people who make $250,000 or more. Munger's proposed initiative would raise income taxes on a sliding scale for nearly all wage-earners to help fund schools.
The governor said his proposal was crafted by budget experts as well as local governments, teachers and others that have a stake in state spending. He said Munger's initiative would lock the state into new spending while his would provide more funding for public safety.
"I think on balance, ours is far superior, it's fair and a lot more people are open to it,'' he said.
Brown is projecting his tax initiative would raise as much as $9 billion but a review released Friday by the nonpartisan analyst's office estimates revenue of $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2012-13. The governor said Tuesday that he's comfortable with whatever amount the taxes will bring in.
Munger's initiative would raise $10 billion to $12 billion annually for 12 years.
The governor is running out of time to clear the field for his fall tax vote. He already amended his tax proposal last week after striking a compromise with a teachers union. The deal leaves voters with potentially two tax proposals rather than three on the fall ballot.
Brown said his wife, Anne Gust Brown, who serves as the governor's unpaid adviser, exchanged emails with Munger. But there has been no compromise so far involving the competing measures.
"It was a cordial exchange, let me put it that way,'' he said. "It certainly left things as they are with a fierce campaign on the horizon, which I'm fully prepared for.''