Bullet Trains, Tax Hikes and More Transparency

A high-ranking member of a government reform group thought Gov. Jerry Brown’s state of the state address was a positive indicator that California’s on the right track.

"I’m ecstatic that he’s thinking big (on projects like) high speed rail," said Former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg. "I think it’s both important in terms of the energy and what California’s about, the jobs it brings and the future – you know, China’s got 17 high speed rails, it’s time to have it in California."

These hefty projects come at a price, however, and come November Californians will be able to decide whether they’re worth a temporary sales tax increase and a take hike on millionaires.

Raising taxes as a way to pull the state out of its debt was part of Brown’s state of the state, and Hertzberg has been working with the Think Long Committee to formulate state tax plan of their own.

After a year of study, the group – which includes Google, George Schultz and Condoleezza Rice – scrapped their plans to fine-tune.

"Our goal is to get it right, not to get it right now," Hertzberg said.

The Think Long Committee is working to get their initiative on the ballot in 2014, including a sales tax on services and a reduction of income sales tax, Hertzberg said.

"We need to get confidence back in government," he said.

Hertzberg co-chairs the government reform group California Forward, which has been working to get signatures in favor of two-year budgets, performance-based budgets and a rule that would require a budget be in print for three days before the legislature can vote on it.

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