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Gov. Jerry Brown is turning to robotic telephone calls and mailers in his race to qualify a tax initiative for the November ballot.

"Hi, this is Gov. Jerry Brown," he said in a recorded telephone message that went out last night. "I'm calling because California really needs your help. We have to save our schools and stop even deeper cuts to public safety. You'll get a petition in the mail very soon. Please sign it, and return that petition so that you can take the first step in preventing even more cuts to schools and public safety.

"Thanks a lot."

The California Democratic Party, which paid for the call, said it reached more than one million households deemed likely to support the measure. It will be followed today by a mailer in which Brown is pictured talking with children beneath a chalk headline, "SIGN UP TO SAVE OUR SCHOOLS."

Brown and the California Federation of Teachers, which originally proposed its own tax initiative, agreed last month to a compromise measure, bidding to increase the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

Brown and his allies are now trying to collect more than 800,000 valid voter signatures required to qualify for the November ballot. Time is short, and the use of mail is an indication of how expensive paid signature gathering by clipboard has become for the initiative campaign - at a cost of perhaps $3 per signature on the street.

Facing a "very tight timeline," California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said, "we're all doing everything we can to make sure it gets on the ballot."

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