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California Democrats Duel Over Taxes, Budget

The Wall Street Journal | by Vauhini Vara | April 2, 2012

California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed ballot measure this fall to raise taxes and restore funding to an array of state programs faces unlikely opposition from a prominent Los Angeles lawyer who supported Mr. Brown's election only 17 months ago.

Attorney Molly Munger has proposed a rival ballot issue that also would raise taxes but earmark most of the new revenues for schools.

The clash between Ms. Munger and Mr. Brown highlights the tension within California's Democrats over how to prioritize spending now that the state is beginning to recover from its fiscal crisis.

Both sides are taking pot shots. "The Munger tax measure has virtually no chance of passage," Mr. Brown's pollster, Jim Moore, wrote in a memo released in February by the governor's campaign, along with polling data that showed Mr. Brown's measure outperforming Ms. Munger's.

Mr. Brown, whom aides declined to make available for an interview, has pressed Ms. Munger to abandon her effort, arguing that a November ballot with both tax measures would confuse voters and hurt both proposals.

So far, Ms. Munger isn't budging.


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