Gov. Brown signs drastic spending cuts

March 24, 2011 6:49:20 PM PDT
There could be some movement in the state budget stalemate. Gov. Jerry Brown signed drastic spending cuts on Thursday and there's word he's close to agreeing to a five-year spending cap - something that could get him the Republican support he needs to put a tax extension before voters.

In his first major action toward zeroing out the $26 billion deficit, Brown signed into law most of the $14 billion in spending cuts and fund shifts the Legislature approved.

"Of course, we're only half way to the goal line and we need to find more revenues or we need to make more and more drastic cuts," said Brown.

Brown wants to solve the other half of the deficit with tax extensions, asking California voters in a special election to continue paying the expiring taxes on income, sales and car registration for five more years. But he is still looking for two Republican votes in each house to approve that. Negotiations have been so difficult, Plans B and C are in the works.

"It's no secret. We're looking at every option because we have to," said St. Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Senate President.

One scenario: Democrats approve the special election by majority vote with no Republicans, a move that's legally questionable. The other is to get the tax extensions on a November ballot through the initiative process. However, a new poll out by the Public Policy Institute of California shows support for the special election among likely voters is falling. About two-thirds supported it back in January -- now only half do.

Brown is preparing for the possibility he won't get a special election.

"If I can't do that, I'll try to make the billions of dollars of cuts as gently as I can, but it will be quite disruptive and painful," said Brown.

The budget cuts Brown just approved are already severe, especially for families on welfare with two kids.

"Their grant gets cut to $435, which really means that that family is going to be on the precipice of homelessness every single month," said Mike Herald from Western Center on Law & Poverty.

Brown admits a June 7 special election is no longer possible and is shooting for a date later that month before the alternatives get a serious look.

Load Comments