The California Business Roundtable announced Thursday that it opposes two tax initiatives rivaling Gov. Jerry Brown's plan, but the large-business coalition stopped short of endorsing the governor's proposal.
The group's board voted to oppose a "millionaires tax" sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers and Courage Campaign, as well as an income tax hike on most earners backed by attorney Molly Munger.
The Roundtable's members include some of the state's largest corporations, including Chevron, Blue Shield of California, PG&E and Safeway. Among other concerns, the group noted the longer duration of the initiatives filed by Munger (12 years) and CFT (permanent).
It marks the latest in strategic endorsements by groups aligning themselves with the Democratic governor. Officials at the California Budget Project and Western Center on Law and Poverty announced this week they were backing Brown's plan but not taking a formal position the other proposals. Their nuanced stance reflects their longstanding support for taxes even though they prefer Brown's initiative.
The Democratic governor and his allies have ramped up their pressure on tax rivals because they fear that multiple measures on the ballot may discourage voters from any tax hike. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last night showed Brown's initiative has 52 percent support and 40 percent opposition.
But rival groups have shown few signs of backing away. CFT and its partners insisted again Thursday that their tax on millionaires polls best and thereby deserves a place on the ballot.
Roundtable spokesman Kirk Clark said the business group was waiting to see whether Brown would come through with pension reductions, as well as easing environmental laws and business regulations to make it easier for firms to operate in California. Clark said that the group may issue a support or oppose position on Brown's plan after the legislative season ends.
"At this point, the board really wanted to send a signal on the other two while working actively and aggressively with the administration on some of the reforms," Clark said.