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Legislators resisting Gov. Brown's tax vote

March 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
There is one week left before state lawmakers must decide whether to place tax extensions on a special June ballot. It's part of Governor Jerry Brown's overall budget package. The governor is working hard to round up enough votes.

With the March 10 deadline looming, Brown may be closing in on the Republican votes he needs to put the five-year tax extensions on a June ballot.

He has been meeting behind closed doors with members who may be receptive to giving their "yes" vote for certain demands.

"Pension reform, regulatory reform, potentially some sort of spending cap which would be in place during the same five-year period that the current tax rates would be extended," said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the senate budget chairman.

One of the votes Brown is hoping to get is state Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet), who wasn't ready to say whether he's liking what he's hearing.

Brown only needs two Republican votes in each house to be able to ask voters whether the temporary tax hikes on income, sales and vehicle registration may be extended five more years.

Republicans, though, risk being vilified by anti-tax groups.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) says he's a definite "no."

"What I'm seeing is a governor who's the governor of 'no, no, no.' No new jobs. No new ideas. Nothing but taxes," said Donnelly.

The talk has always centered around trying to round up Republican votes, but the Democratic votes are not solidly there.

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) confirmed he is not an automatic "yes" vote. That just means Brown needs another Republican to cross over to get to that magic two-thirds threshold.

"It's not a matter of Democrats or Republicans. It's a matter of legislators. So at the end of the day, we need two-thirds," said state Assm. Bob Blumenfield (D-Los Angeles), assembly budget chairman.

Even if enough Republicans cross over to support the tax vote, many GOP lawmakers believe Californians will side with them, as they did in 2009.

"I'm not scared of the voters because I firmly believe the voters will vote this down, just like they did by over 65 percent on a two-year extension," said state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks).

Leaders believe there'll be enough support to put the budget up for a vote Wednesday or Thursday of next week.