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Gov. Brown pressures lawmakers on budget plan

June 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The pressure's on to get a new budget approved in Sacramento. Governor Jerry Brown is urging lawmakers to pass a no-frills budget with temporary tax hikes and no additional cuts.

The state budget is due Wednesday and Governor Brown is stepping up the pressure, especially on Republicans.

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 allow 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 -- it's the best for our students and our children and our communities," said Martha Fluor, president of 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 that they're willing to put it on the ballot providing we also reform the way we're doing business. That's the part the governor's not willing to do," said state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), the senate minority leader.

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. The fact that they don't, they can't, is their problem, quite frankly," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

That attitude worries Republicans like Barry Bedwell, the president 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 I think is even more devastating. That, coupled with the fact that I think generally the Republicans could become irrelevant," said Bedwell.

Without the tax extensions, one option is to cut $10 billion more to balance the state budget. Lawmakers could also do some accounting gimmicks, which the governor promised he wouldn't do, but today left that door open.

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