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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CA: Did Brown Raise Taxes?

Seema Mehta reports in The Los Angeles Times:

A claim in a Meg Whitman television ad that state taxes went up when Democratic rival Jerry Brown was governor from 1975 to 1983 is false, according to the state Department of Finance.

"Taxes went down, by this yardstick, yes," said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the department, who added that the figures are the result of an impartial, nonpartisan analysis of the data. "The data you have in front of you does not have an R suffix or a D suffix after them. The Department of Finance calculated these numbers in a consistent manner over Republican and Democratic administrations."

The Republican gubernatorial nominee's 30-second television ad, which was unveiled Thursday, features 1992 footage of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton slamming Brown's claim that he lowered taxes as governor. The video came from a Democratic primary debate that featured both men.

"CNN. Not me, CNN says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, just plain wrong," Clinton says in the ad. "He raised taxes as governor of California…. He doesn't tell the people the truth."

Palmer said CNN apparently used the wrong years for its analysis.

At The San Jose Mercury News, Ken McLaughlin adds detail:

Ironically, the reporter who made the error, Brooks Jackson, is now the head of a respected nonpartisan website,, which rebuts what it considers inaccurate and misleading claims by politicians.

Reached late Friday night on the East Coast, Jackson said he would review California Department of Finance documents on Monday and issue a "fact check on an 18-year-old story" -- his own.

Jackson had reported in 1992 that taxes during the Brown years had increased from $6.47 per $100 of personal income to $6.98 per $100. But he used the wrong base year -- the 1973-74 fiscal year. Jackson should have used fiscal year 1974-75, the last budget that Brown's predecessor, Ronald Reagan, controlled.

If Jackson had used the correct year, it would have showed taxes decreasing from $7.03 per $100 in fiscal year 1974-75 to $6.83 in fiscal year 1982-83, the last year Brown had control of the budget. Jackson had also erroneously used the 1981-82 fiscal year in citing the $6.98 figure.