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In a pointed letter critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax rival, California's two U.S. senators along with state legislative leaders called Thursday for a cease-fire from campaigns backing the two multibillion-dollar tax hikes on the November ballot.

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, said in a letter to the California State PTA that the Proposition 38 campaign has "become increasingly negative" and "engaged in personal attacks against Governor Jerry Brown and Prop. 30."

The PTA has joined wealthy attorney Molly Munger in backing Proposition 38, which raises income taxes on all but the poorest households to pay mostly for education. That initiative is competing against Brown's measure to raise income taxes on wealthy earners and the state sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar to bolster the state budget.

"These attacks should stop," the four Democrats wrote. "While we may not all agree on the ultimate funding solution, education advocates across California can surely agree on the worst outcome for our state: one where both initiatives fail."

The letter called on the campaigns to "refrain from directly attacking or referring to the other." It added, "We have spoken with Governor Brown, and he will strongly support this."

Brown, when asked about the letter in San Jose, called the idea "excellent" and "a good step." However, he also made a point of saying that his initiative is the only one that would avert mid-year budget cuts.

The Proposition 38 campaign declined the request Thursday.

Spokesman Nathan Ballard said his team will "continue to campaign vigorously for Proposition 38. It will be a campaign based on this important fact: Prop 38 will invest more in California's public schools than any other ballot measure. We will continue to make this point in a variety of civil, respectful ways."

The letter came a day after the two sides sniped at one another.

Ballard, spokesman for Proposition 38, said in a statement during Brown's appearance at a Sacramento school that the even was "good stagecraft" but that Proposition 38 would raise more money for education.

At a rally for his Proposition 30, Brown said, "I can tell you one thing. Only this measure saves cuts this year." The governor has tried to make the case that Munger's initiative would cause harm to schools in 2012-13 because the trigger cuts imposed by Brown and lawmakers would still take effect if his proposal fails and Proposition 38 passes.

David Siders contributed to this report from San Jose. Statement from Proposition 38 campaign added at 4:50 p.m.



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