SACRAMENTO — In a final weekend of campaigning, Gov. Jerry Brown is asking everyone from students to venture capitalists to lend a hand in pushing his struggling $6 billion tax increase across the finish line.
The Democratic governor made several appearances in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon to cheer on some of the thousands of phone bankers and precinct walkers who are part of his final statewide effort to sway undecided voters and boost turnout for Tuesday's election.
Recent public opinion polls show a narrow path to victory for Proposition 30, which would help close California's budget deficit by raising the state sales tax a quarter cent for four years and hiking income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000 annually.
At a Silicon Valley lunch on Friday, Brown said the initiative had a "very good chance" of success if supporters do not get complacent.
The fate of the measure will have a deep impact on Brown's legacy, and failure could mean less funding for California's public universities and grade schools, which have already suffered from cycles of cuts.
On Saturday, Brown greeted Service Employees International Union precinct walkers, spoke to people phone banking with a grassroots community group and was expected to close the day with a stop at the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Courtni Pugh, Executive Director of SEIU local 99, said Brown's visit was inspiring for her members, many of whom drive buses, clean floors and serve lunches in Los Angeles public schools.
"This is really the culmination of weeks of contacting voters," Pugh said. "We had members who took six buses here today to knock on doors for hours, and to see the governor say he's doing this for them and for the kids was great fuel for the next few days."
Teachers and labor unions joint rallies in Sacramento on Saturday to launch a final get out the vote effort in support of Proposition 30. In the Central Valley, the umbrella voter participation organization California Calls was kicking off a similar four-day effort.
As the Proposition 30 campaigning has intensified, the pool of available votes has been shrinking. An estimated 3.5 million voters have already cast their ballots by mail.
However, supporters see reasons for optimism in the changing composition of the electorate.
California reached a record number of registered voters this fall, with the majority signing up through the state's new online system. Those voters tended to be younger and lean Democratic.
On Friday, Brown addressed the criticism that a new tax on high-income earners could spur job creators to flee the state. Speaking to a room of power players at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's annual public policy lunch, Brown cited a study that found millionaires are more likely to leave California because of marital problems.
"What it says is the biggest factor in millionaires moving out of California is divorce," Brown said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Conventional wisdom holds that support for tax initiatives falls as Election Day draws near. But Brown has encountered more roadblocks than he originally anticipated, including a rival tax initiative by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger and a well-financed opposition campaign supported by her brother, Charles Jr., and an anonymous $11 million donation from an Arizona group.