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Brown: Not enough Republicans for tax vote

March 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Speaking at an event before the governors for the California Community College organization, Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday he may not have the necessary Republican votes to put his budget plan to the voters in a special ballot.

Governor Jerry Brown's solution to the budget battle is in jeopardy. The governor says he doesn't have enough votes. There are just three days left before the governor's deadline.

Time is of the essence. The secretary of state needs time to print and send out the ballots for a June special election. Brown had hoped a budget vote would happen by Thursday. Clearly that's not likely since several Republicans have said that they are not getting much in return for their vote.

For the first time, Brown acknowledged he's having a tough time securing the Republican votes he needs to pass a state budget this week, which includes asking California voters in a special June election to extend the temporary tax hikes.

After meeting over the weekend with a group of GOP lawmakers that seemingly was open to breaking ranks, those talks went nowhere.

"There is a lot of fear that the entire machinery of the more conservative elements will turn be turned against whoever votes to put this on the ballot," said Brown.

The state senators include: Tom Berryhill, Tom Harman, Sam Blakeslee, Bill Emmerson and Anthony Canella.

All declined to be interviewed, but in a letter to the governor, they said their ideas weren't taken far enough: "We were therefore disappointed to find that our reforms were either rejected or so watered down as to have no real effect on future spending or the economy."

Pension reform, a spending cap, and regulatory relief were some of the Republican demands, but Brown may be feeling those ideas are too much and won't be able to get labor unions to go that far.

"I suspect that the governor, his hands are tied somewhat by the special interests that would have to pay for this election, which would be primarily the public employee unions," said Republican strategist Rob Stutzman.

Public schools are feeling very nervous because if voters don't get a say in the tax extensions or if the tax extensions get voted down, education suffers the biggest cuts.

"Closing school as much as four to five weeks early is an absolute genuine possibility. And this governor is not about bravado. He's not about threats. He's trying to paint an accurate picture to people," said Kevin Gordon, a lobbyist for public schools. "That is the cost of not getting this budget done."

Schools got more bad news Monday: In a sweeping review, the state controller, John Chiang, found that California redevelopment agencies shortchanged public schools last year by at least $40 million.