Anti-tax groups remind Republicans about their pledge

January 13, 2011 7:49:28 PM PST
On Thursday, state lawmakers took their first crack at Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget and it's clear already, they are deeply divided. The wedge, of course, is the extra taxes he's counting on us to pay.

Californians are already paying higher temporary taxes from their paychecks, in the things they buy and for their car registration.

In the first vetting of Brown's budget proposal by lawmakers, finance officials said in addition to more deep cuts, asking California voters to pay those higher taxes for five more years is key to getting the state back in fiscal shape.

"The reason that the administration stuck with those particular taxes is because people have been used to paying them," says Michael Cohen from the California Department of Finance.

But anti-tax groups reminded Republican lawmakers most signed a pledge to not raise taxes, that voting to put the tax extensions on the ballot was considered breaking the commitment.

"As a reminder that the six Republican politicians who voted to increase our taxes two years ago are all are out of the State Capitol today, most of whom after suffering embarrassing defeats in pursuit of higher office," says Jon Fleischman, a conservative blogger.

Those six were vilified by fiscal conservatives for their vote on the temporary tax hikes. One website had head their heads on sticks vowing to end their political careers.

"How stupid is that pledge?" says St. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Democrats like Leno say pledges and threats hamper lawmakers' ability to do their job.

"You have relinquished your power to a special interest, other than your constituents," says Leno.

However, Republican lawmakers say they are simply upholding their belief of no more taxes, no matter what outside forces say and pointing out voters have already rejected extending the temporary tax hikes.

"That is consistent with my personal philosophy. It is also consistent with the people that I represent. So I think again it's not about the pledge," says Assm. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, the vice chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Two Republican lawmakers have not signed the anti-tax pledge, but it'll take two in each house to put the tax extensions on the ballot. By the way, Brown's budget proposal has broken records, logging more than a million hits in its debut, so certainly, there's a lot of interest in his budget.

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