2011-04-07 "Brown, GOP to hit the road with budget message" by JULIET WILLIAMS from "Associated Press" newswire
Gov. Jerry Brown is preparing to take his budget appeal directly to voters, holding at least two events in Southern California that he says will be the start of a tour to sell his plan for maintaining a series of temporary tax hikes to plug a remaining $15.4 billion deficit.
The Democratic governor will have company on the road: The state Republican Party also was launching a tour Thursday. GOP officials said it is intended to counter the governor's claim that deeper cuts to public schools, higher education, law enforcement and other programs are coming unless voters get the chance to renew the tax increases.
"Should we be sitting here and saying we're going to close school for two months? From my perspective, that's a disingenuous conversation," said Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare.
She planned to appear Thursday night in Fresno with newly elected California GOP president Tom Del Beccaro, followed by periodic stops around the state over the next year.
Brown ended talks with Republican lawmakers last week over his proposal to hold a June special election. He wants voters to continue temporary increases enacted two years ago in the vehicle, sales and personal income taxes. The governor wants them extended for five years.
But he said this week he is still hoping to win the two votes he needs in each chamber of the state Legislature for a future special election on the taxes. No one, including Brown, knows when such an election could be called, even if he gets the needed votes.
The next regularly scheduled statewide election is the presidential primary in February 2012.
Brown is hoping to put the pressure on Republicans by laying out possible budget cuts that communities could face in an all-cuts budget — although neither Democrats nor Republicans are likely to vote for such a proposal.
"It will have a devastating effect if that's all cuts — to schools, university, to the mentally ill, that puts them all on the streets, and to law enforcement, to probation, to sheriffs. It's unacceptable," the governor told a meeting of law enforcement officials in Sacramento this week. "I know the people — when faced with the true cuts and knowing what they are or extending the taxes they're already paying — hopefully they're going to vote to continue to fund a decent level of government."
Brown scheduled an appearance Friday at an elementary school in Riverside, a Republican area of the state that is represented in the Legislature by Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, and Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga.
Jeffries welcomed Brown to his district but warned the governor not to expect a warm reception.
The lawmaker said his constituents don't want to pay higher taxes. He said they support the cuts to public employee pensions and state spending that Republicans have been advocating.
"My constituents are struggling to make ends meet and can't afford Governor Brown's tax increases to fund a bloated state government," Jeffries said.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has said closing a deficit smaller than the remaining $15.4 billion shortfall would require cuts. Those would include nearly $5 billion from K-12 schools, another $585 million from community colleges, $1.1 billion from universities — including a 10 percent student fee increase at California State University campuses — and $1.2 billion in cuts to health and social services.