LOS ANGELES - Gov. Jerry Brown urged college students this afternoon to rally support on campus for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, saying that by doing so they can avoid a tuition increase.
"My plea to you is, don't be complacent," the Democratic governor told about 200 students at a rally at the University of California, Los Angeles. "You can avoid that tuition hike."
The event marked the start of what Brown said will be a "full-on campaign" for Proposition 30, his initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. The measure would avert about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges this budget year, but it would also have a direct impact on college students: If the measure fails, University of California officials have said they will raise tuition by about 20 percent.
"A lot is riding on this election," Brown said.
Brown's appearance came a day after Molly Munger, the proponent of a rival tax measure, announced she was phasing out her ad critical of Brown's initiative.
"I think that's good, because I think everybody should argue their own case," Brown said after the rally. "I'm just glad that she's following a more positive line."
Brown has said he will keep an aggressive campaign schedule in the final three weeks before Election Day, following a relatively quiet summer.
"The governor getting out is helpful," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, which merged its own tax campaign with Brown's earlier this year. "In hindsight, probably having him traveling the state, shaking hands, holding town hall meetings, is an aspect of the campaign that we should have exploited more."
Among the students at the rally was Saundra Albers, a 19-year-old sophomore and member of the campus' Democratic club. She said students are actively campaigning for Brown's measure.
"We're getting the word out," she said.
Brown was heckled at the rally by students who called for a tax on millionaires and who objected, among other things, to his recent veto of legislation that would have provided overtime and other benefits to domestic workers
Mathew Sandoval, a 33-year-old graduate student, called Brown a "traitor" and yelled when Brown was speaking to reporters after the rally, "Did you come to talk to students or to cameras, Brown?"
Brown said at the rally that it was appropriate to hear from both dissenters and supporters, calling for each group to shout.
"The excitement on the campus, not just from this rally, but from all over, is incredible," Brown said later. "The institution of the schools and the universities are more engaged in this campaign than any I've ever seen."