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Arguing for more revenues to bolster the state's finances, Gov. Jerry Brown called his November tax initiative "common sense" Thursday and blamed his predecessor for leaving California with an ongoing budget gap.

Brown contended that his Proposition 30 would initially raise roughly the same $7 billion that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated by cutting the car tax and not raising taxes on out-of-state firms. The governor's Proposition 30 would increase taxes on high-income earners for seven years and sales for four years.

"These cuts have been made before I became governor - these cuts in revenue," Brown told The Bee's editorial board. "And there were no cuts in corresponding expenditures. So that hole is there. And then on top of that, we were in a hole because of the downturn."

The governor criticized a rival initiative by wealthy attorney Molly Munger, Proposition 38, that would raise income taxes on all but the poorest Californians for 12 years to pay for K-12 schools and early childhood programs. In particular, Brown stressed that Munger's initiative would force higher education to suffer cuts, but he also maintained that it would result in more initial K-12 reductions.

Brown said he and wife Anne Gust Brown pleaded with Munger to drop her initiative this spring to no avail. Munger contributed another $1.2 million toward Proposition 38 this week and told EdSource that she is planning "a big air war" this fall.

"That's kind of like, why didn't I get four votes from the Republican Party?" Brown said, comparing Munger's persistence with that of Senate Republicans, who opted against putting Brown's tax hikes on the ballot last year. "There's something called free will. Even God can't stop somebody from sinning if that's their free will."

"You have to understand the governor has power and authority," the onetime seminarian added, "but I don't have the power that even God himself lacks, and that is to override free will."


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