Author Archives: John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

“Whatever It Takes,” Says Munger on Campaign

Molly Munger addresses reporters.

Molly Munger, author of a proposed tax increase earmarked for K-12 schools. (Photo: Nicole Nguyen/KQED)

Attorney and education activist Molly Munger says she will spend as much of her personal fortune as needed to run a statewide campaign for her tax initiative to help K-12 schools.

“We are totally committed to spending whatever it takes to let the people of California know they have this opportunity this year,” said Munger in an extended interview in Sacramento on Friday.

Munger later said when pressed that this could, in fact, mean her fully bankrolling a fall political campaign.

The interview was for a coming radio profile of the 63-year-old wealthy Pasadena attorney, a chat in which she talked about the roots of her passion for improving schools and why she thinks that her proposal — a 12-year proportional income tax increase on the vast majority of the state’s taxpayers — can win.

But for the political insider world, there’s likely to be some notice of Munger’s newly firm promise to keep the dollars flowing beyond just the qualification stage of an initiative campaign.

The “we” in her answers, Munger said, refer to the resolve of both her and her husband, Stephen English. “We have the resources and we’re going to spend them.”

Just what resources she’ll need to hand over is pretty hard to guess, given the increasing likelihood of multiple tax initiatives on the ballot and a very long list of other initiatives that will likely also have a spot in front of the voters. The last tax hike proposal was the failed 2009 effort by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders for a temporary tax extension to help balance the state budget. That was admittedly a very different campaign, and state records show the effort cost just shy of $16 million. Private musings by political experts seem to suggest that a 2012 tax initiative, one coming in the midst of a crowded general election campaign (2009 was a special election) could cost close to double that amount. And even then, it may not win.

In public comments last month, Munger said that the effort would not be relying only “on our own resources,” but that others would be relied on, too. But on Friday, she admitted that she may end up being asked to go it virtually alone when it comes to the millions needed to run the campaign ahead.

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Tax Initiative Deal Struck, Gathering Signatures Will Be Pricey

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

2:00 p.m. UPDATE: Governor Brown confirmed to reporters in southern California this afternoon that a deal has, in fact, been reached on a November tax initiative. As such, this posting includes updated information and has a slightly tweaked headline from its original form.

By all indications, there’s now a détente in the works that would head off the otherwise expected November ballot clash between Governor Jerry Brown and liberal activists over a tax increase.

Multiple sources confirm a compromise is being crafted that would adhere in some ways to Brown’s existing initiative — mainly, by still including a small sales tax increase — but would boost the income tax increase on the wealthy above where the governor has proposed, while still making all of the taxes temporary.

Neither leaders of the millionaires tax campaign nor Brown’s political team have confirmed any of the details, after the story was first reported this morning online by the Los Angeles Times. But conversations with several Democratic and Capitol sources reveal a tax proposal that feels much more like the governor’s than the one being promoted by a coalition including the California Federation of Teachers.

The signs of a negotiated truce between the two sides seems to be taking some in political circles by surprise, after weeks of increasing tensions between the two camps and Brown’s own prognostication on Monday that multiple tax measures appeared a done deal for November.

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