OAKLAND -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday collected the California Nurses Association's endorsement, a $1 million contribution and a pledge of boots on the street to support his tax-hike measure on November's ballot.
Flanked by the leadership of the CNA and National Nurses United's leadership and a phalanx of red-shirted nurses, Brown called it "a generous contribution and one sorely needed to present the choice to the people of California."
Big as that check is, it pales beside the latest $5 million pumped into Proposition 38, a competing tax measure, by its proponent, Molly Munger of Pasadena. Munger's total stake so far is almost $13.8 million, some of which already is being spent on television advertising.
A poll released last week by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University showed 56.2 percent support for Brown's measure, Proposition 30 -- not a strong showing with three months to go before Election Day.
And the governor has a big public-relations problem -- at the very least -- as he simultaneously asks voters to hike taxes for the general fund while trying to explain why some of the state's special funds might have millions more squirreled away than previously believed. He said his Finance Department will deliver a comprehensive report on that Friday.
But asked Thursday about how he sees his measure's prospects, he gestured toward the $1 million dummy check the nurses had just presented and replied, "I feel better today than I did yesterday."
San Jose nurse Malinda Markowitz, one of the CNA's four co-presidents, said the measure is a "big first step" toward protecting health care, education, child care and other vital state services.
"Humanity not austerity," she said. "That is our message today."
Union eexecutive director RoseAnn DeMoro said "nurses stand solidly behind Jerry, and we're going to work for this in every community."
Proposition 30 would raise income taxes for the next seven years on those making more than $250,000 per year -- and would raise the state sales tax by a quarter-cent for the next four years. It would raise from $6.8 billion to $9 billion per year.
If voters reject it, supporters say, the school year could be shortened by three weeks and University of California tuition could go up by 20 percent.
"To those who've been blessed the most, it's only right and the way to go to say, 'Give some back!'" Brown said Thursday. "This is not about politics, it's about funding the basic stuff of what government is all about."
Munger's Proposition 38 would raise state income tax rates for most Californians for the next 12 years, generating about $10 billion a year for 12 years to fund K-12 schools and early childhood programs.