Proposition results

Prop. 30, taxes: yes
• Prop. 31, budget process: no
Prop. 32, political contributions: no
• Prop. 33, auto insurance: no
Prop. 34, repeal death penalty: no
• Prop. 35, human trafficking: yes
• Prop. 36, change three-strikes: yes
Prop. 37, food labeling: no
• Prop. 38, taxes: no
• Prop. 39, business tax: yes
• Prop. 40, redistricting: yes

Overcoming decades of anti-tax sentiment in California, Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 -- billed as a tax hike to rescue the state's schools -- won in surprisingly decisive fashion Tuesday.

"I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?'' Brown told supporters Tuesday night. "Here we are ... We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says let's raise our taxes, for our kids for our schools, and for our California dream.''

Proposition 30 passed with 53.9 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting Wednesday evening, according to the Secretary of State, while two other tax measures were more lopsided: Proposition 38, a competing tax-for-schools measure, was soundly defeated with just 27.7 percent of the vote, while Proposition 39, which forces big businesses to pay more taxes, won comfortably with 60 percent of the vote.

But the main event was Proposition 30, where results showed the Bay Area, Los Angeles and coastal areas supported the measure while inland and rural areas rejected it.


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Brown made Proposition 30 the hallmark of his administration, spending the year trying to convince voters that California schools have reached a breaking point and need taxpayers to come to the rescue. It will raise $6 billion annually for education and the state budget by increasing the sales tax by a quarter-cent for four years starting Jan. 1 and raising income taxes on the wealthy by up to 3 percent for seven years retroactive to the start of the 2012 tax year.

"It sold itself," Brown said at a victory party in Sacramento. "The core reason it brought people together was a belief in schools and universities and the capacity of government to make wise investments that benefit all of us."

The governor has repeatedly promised that rejecting Proposition 30 would have meant $6 billion in fresh cuts to schools starting Jan. 1 -- threatening to shorten the K-12 school year and raise tuition at public universities again.

"I think the message is out, that this is the way we're going to invest in our students and our schools," said Kevin Thompson, a teacher in Union School District in San Jose, who took time off from teaching to campaign for the measure.

Gov. Jerry Brown after casting his ballot in Oakland, Nov. 6, 2012.
Gov. Jerry Brown after casting his ballot in Oakland, Nov. 6, 2012. (Laura A. Oda/Staff)

Meanwhile, wealthy attorney Molly Munger's Proposition 38, a competing tax-for-schools measure, lost badly, as expected, despite Munger providing most of the money for the $48 million campaign. Proposition 38 sought to raise $10 billion, mostly for K-12 schools, by raising the income tax on the wealthy and middle class, who bristled at the idea of hiking their own taxes by hundreds of dollars a year.

"Transformational change takes time and we are committed to staying the course until our state truly does truly does tackle this school funding crisis," Munger said in a statement. "So the fight will continue. Whether we are back at the ballot, in Sacramento working on legislation, or finding other, new innovative ways to tackle this incredibly important issue, you can count on us to be there."

However, a third tax measure, Proposition 39, passed as expected, closing a loophole that allowed big multistate businesses to pay fewer state taxes. The result could add $1 billion a year in new revenues to the state. Bay Area hedge fund manager Tom Steyer bankrolled nearly the entire $39 million campaign for Proposition 39.

But as the election approached, all eyes were on Proposition 30.

Supporters led by teachers, other employee unions, Democratic politicians and even some businesses waged a $40 million campaign. Brown personally campaigned around the state in recent weeks and has staked his political reputation on the measure as his top priority during his current term.

Principal Amy Caroza estimated that Coliseum College Prep Academy in Oakland would have lost $200,000 if Proposition 30 failed and said she didn't know how the school would offset that loss.

Voters have spent the last two decades rejecting one tax hike after another, and many voters either didn't believe Brown that the cuts would happen or thought the state should make due with the money it has. They also continue to be skeptical of state government and think new projects like the $69 billion high-speed rail line are a waste when the state needs more for schools and public safety.

In addition to anti-tax groups and conservatives, Munger briefly launched attack ads on Proposition 30 last month while a group with ties to the Koch brothers donated millions of dollars to defeat the measure.

"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the campaign, the voters have spoken," the No on 30 campaign said in a statement Wednesday morning. "We congratulate Gov. Brown and his team on their victory and thank all the small business owners, taxpayers and other groups from every corner of the state for their extraordinary commitment to the 'No on 30 campaign."

Staff writer Sandy Kleffman contributed. Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/rosenberg17.