Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact: In Brown's term, Californians did see taxes go down

The statement

"Taxes went down under Jerry Brown."

Jerry Brown, in a campaign ad

The ruling

The California governor's race between Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown has turned into a political retrospective of the '70s, '80s and '90s, with a special guest appearance from Bill Clinton.

An ad from the Whitman campaign has used a clip from the 1992 presidential primary. Clinton and Brown were running for the nomination. In the old interview Clinton says: "CNN — not me, CNN — says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, just plain wrong. Jerry Brown went out there and took credit for the fact that the people of California voted for Proposition 13, which lowered taxes, which he opposed. And now he's going around and taking credit for it. He raised taxes as governor of California. He had a surplus when he took office and a deficit when he left. He doesn't tell the people the truth."

Clinton endorsed Brown on Tuesday. In a statement, Clinton said the Whitman ad is misleading because the CNN report he cited in 1992 was "erroneous."

Brown put out his own ad, defending his record. It says Clinton's claim was wrong, and in fact: "Taxes went down under Jerry Brown."

We decided to check.

The 1992 CNN report was based on a California Department of Finance measure of the tax burden per $100 of income. But CNN looked at the wrong years. Jerry Brown oversaw budgets for fiscal years 1975 to 1982. The tax burden during that time started at $6.95 per $100 of income, increased to a high of $7.74 in 1977, then declined to $6.56 in 1982.

Records show that Brown signed a two-cent per gallon gasoline tax, but he also indexed income tax brackets for inflation, which reduced taxes for some. He signed measures that both increased and decreased taxes for some businesses.

He oversaw large state surpluses in his early years as governor, which happened without any new tax increases. And he initially opposed the tax revolt movement for Proposition 13, but after it passed he became an ardent defender.

The most significant evidence in favor of Brown's statement is the state numbers that show taxes per $100 of resident income. By that metric, taxes went up, and then down under Brown, and finished a little lower than when he started. Those numbers sway the meter in a positive direction. We rate the claim "Taxes went down under Jerry Brown," as Mostly True.

Edited for print. For more, go to

PolitiFact: In Brown's term, Californians did see taxes go down 09/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101