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Dueling Visions of Revenue in California

The competing plans proposed by California's Jerry Brown and Molly Munger (both "committed liberals," says the hometown paper) are a rare thing: two distinct visions of how to raise revenue and strengthen essential state programs. Both the governor and Ms. Munger, daughter of the illustrious Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman, advocate raising taxes. Where they disagree is on the source of the taxes and how they ought to be dispersed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Brown's ballot measure would "restore funding to an array of state programs" while Munger's plan has an eye towards "new revenues for schools."

While Ms. Munger's proposal emphasizes raising more money for schools, Mr. Brown's measure would put the revenue into the state's general fund and allow more spending for other purposes, too.

Mr. Brown's measure would further tax the incomes of wealthier people through 2018 and increase the sales tax until 2016. Ms. Munger is proposing an across-the-board income-tax hike that would last until 2024, but no sales-tax increase.

For reasons that gladden the heart, Mr. Brown's plan has been better-received by the public -- thanks in part to his "millionaire's tax," which places much of the burden exactly where it belong. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown's proposal also includes a sales tax increase, which, notes Jim Newton, would exacerbate the tax burden on California's poorest, who will have to "pay a greater percentage of their incomes in sales taxes and who can least afford to pay higher taxes[.]"