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California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase taxes for only the top income brackets, known as the Millionaire’s Tax Initiative, and a small hike in the sales tax would balance the state budget, preserve public safety funding and prevent the further decimation of public education.

This is the one proposal currently on the table that has the best chance of fixing the state’s budget mess, and it deserves widespread support.

Opponents of the initiative have gone to great expense to fight the tax increase, simply because they have the wealth to do so. Their wealth could be used in more productive ways.

Many people in California are facing real financial hardships: foreclosure, unemployment, illness, homelessness and hunger. It is silly that in the face of an economic crisis, the wealthy are once again depleting the state’s resources just to get out of paying more in taxes.

College students, young and those more mature, want a better life, not a handout.  The state’s economy will not recover without educated citizens who become innovators and industry builders.

The state’s colleges and universities have spent the first part of their spring semester in total upheaval. Sudden additional budget cuts have faculty and staff in fear of losing their jobs, students’ educations are at best derailed and administrators are campaigning like politicians to keep their funding and their students.

Community colleges have closed class sections and reduced class sizes on campuses that already suffer from over-enrollment. Due to the cuts, students who were on track for completing their Associate’s Degree in order to transfer are stuck.

On Tuesday, officials from the CSU system announced that it will close the majority of its campuses for spring 2013 admissions. High school graduates who had planned on applying to a CSU will now be forced to attend high-priced private universities or flood over-crowded community colleges.

Wealthy opponents of Brown’s initiative are attempting to sway the minds of voters, who would actually benefit from the initiative, by harping on the sales tax increase. With the help of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Brown’s office announced last week that the initiative has been revamped to lower the proposed sales tax increase from one-half percent to a quarter percent. 

The new version also raises the tax increase for the top two income brackets.

In addition, the income tax increases will be extended for an additional two years, through 2018, while the sales tax increase will end after 2016.

The wealthy may object to the tax increase and say it is unfair, but really what is so unfair about being wealthy? When faced with all the people who have truly suffered because of the economy, driving last year’s Bentley isn’t such a bad thing. The revenue from the tax increase would not only stimulate the economy with a new generation of eager and educated people who will become homebuyers, business owners, overall consumers and tax payers. California needs this initiative; it is the only solid chance we have of pulling ourselves out of this hole.

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