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REDWOOD CITY - Gov. Jerry Brown said today that it is "amazing" the California Chamber of Commerce's decided to take no position on his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, adding that the group's neutrality is "basically clearing the way" for passage of the measure.

"The chamber is neutral," Brown said, "which is amazing that the Chamber of Commerce would work so carefully with my administration and is not in opposition at all - is basically clearing the way for us."

The Democratic governor said at a bill signing event here that the chamber's neutrality "is a very important sign ... it's a very, very positive indicator of Proposition 30's potential to get the 'Yes' vote."

Brown's Proposition 30 proposes to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

Brown, appearing at a meeting of the Bay Area Council, signed legislation consolidating authority for the state's international trade and investment program within the governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. Brown said earlier this year that California will open trade offices in Shanghai and Beijing. California has not had an official presence in China since 2003.

The trade offices are expected to be privately financed, and the administration is working with chambers of commerce to operate them.

"Thirty-seven years ago, my first act as governor was to abolish the Department of Commerce," Brown said. "I sent someone over there to find out what the hell they were doing, and they had a bunch of pamphlets on the floor. I said, hell, let the Chamber of Commerce do that stuff. But over the last several decades I've really come to understand that a partnership with government and business can make a hell of a lot of difference."

Brown said he plans to visit China "as soon as the weather warms up a bit ... in the beginning of the new year, or toward the Spring."


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