Brown turns up budget pressure as deadline nears

FILE -- Gov. Jerry Brown talks to reporters at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday March 23, 2011.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
June 13, 2011 6:12:43 PM PDT
California's budget deadline is fast approaching, and for the first time there is an incentive for lawmakers to get a deal done -- no budget means no paychecks for legislators. The main sticking point continues to be taxes. Monday the governor tried a different strategy for pressuring Republicans.

Gov. Jerry Brown's latest strategy to getting a state budget approved is bringing Republicans to Sacramento to call out GOP lawmakers who refuse to support the extension of temporary tax hikes. They want their party to put up two Republican votes in each House and let Californians to decide whether they want to keep paying a higher sales tax and vehicle license fee, as well as an income tax surcharge, to avoid even deeper budget cuts. They also want the taxes extended until that special election can be held.

"I may not agree with everything in the governor's budget, but it's the best for our students, our children and our communities," said Martha Fluor with the California School Boards Association.

"We have a large number of people around here who don't want to cut and don't want to tax," said Brown. "They don't want to do anything."

Republican leaders point the blame right back at the governor's labor union allies, who they say are preventing Brown from agreeing to major government reforms, primarily involving spending and public pensions..

"My caucus members that want reforms have always said they're willing to put it on the ballot, provided we also reform the way we're doing business," said Republican St. Senator Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga who is also the Republican Senate minority leader. "That's the part the governor's not willing to do."

Voter-approved Proposition 25 gave Democrats the ability to pass a budget with a simple majority, but if the plan includes taxes, it still needs a two-thirds vote.

"They can pass a budget right now," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "The fact they can't is their problem, quite frankly."

That attitude worries Republicans like Barry Bedwell of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, who think this is a time their party can influence change in an era when GOP votes are no longer needed for budgets.

"To lose that opportunity and walk away with nothing is even more devastating," said Bedwell. "That, coupled with the fact that I think generally the Republicans can become irrelevant."

With time running out Gov. Brown left the door open to signing a budget with accounting gimmicks, something he promised he wouldn't do.


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