Brown urges lawmakers to allow special election

February 1, 2011 12:24:14 AM PST
Gov. Brown referenced the unrest in Egypt in his State of the State address on Monday, but he focused his message on money -- specifically, how to deal with California's budget crisis.

You could call Brown's address a kick-off campaign for a June special election to ask voters to extend the temporary tax hikes.

He targeted Republicans, who have consistently said they will block the move to put the proposal on the ballot, by citing the civil unrest in Egypt and Tunisia to make the point democracy should be a guiding force on whether California should have a voice in his plan.

"When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California, can't say, 'Now is the time to block a vote of the people,'" said Brown.

Republicans were not convinced. They say this is not the time to extend the higher taxes, especially since a similar proposal, Proposition 1A, was already voted down by the people.

"I voted for this once before. I voted for it two years ago to put 1A on the ballot, and the people said 2-1 'no.' I've done my letting the people decide," said St. Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

Brown couldn't even get Republicans go along on a joke.

"We need everyone's best thinking. You can applaud me on that. Republicans, you can applaud, come on! Best thinking," said Brown.

Besides extended taxes, Brown's budget also goes relies on $12 billion in cuts to government and social programs. It's a bitter pill Democrats are willing to swallow.

"We're looking at cutting programs, huge programs that a lot of us have fought for and supported for decades. And we realize we can't keep them anymore," said St. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

Republican leader Connie Conway says if the people really want a vote on the taxes, she won't stand in the way of letting them gather signatures and put the proposal on the ballot through the initiative process.