After three months of budget negotiations, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a halt to talks with the Legislature’s Republicans in his bipartisan attempt to resolve the state’s $26 billion deficit.
The action leaves both Brown and Republicans in a political hot seat.
For Brown, he has to decide whether to push for majority-vote attempt to place his plan on the budget for a June special election – a plan that is legally uncertain.
For Republicans, they have to fend off the appearance of being afraid to negotiate and of playing politics with the state’s fiscal woes.
Brown, a Democrat, in a letter to Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, said the negotiations had focused for weeks on a spending cap, public pension issues and regulatory reform. Brown posted a YouTube video of his position here.
But, he said, Republicans late last week added dozens of separate demands, “many of which are new and have no relationship whatsoever to the budget.”
“From my count, your list today added almost two dozen new topics, including obscure aspects of labor law and shifting the presidential primary to March. In addition, your list of demands, if met, would undermine my entire budget proposal by undoing major elements and extending the taxes for only 18 months,” Brown wrote.
Just days after he took office – for the third time – in January, Brown proposed a budget composed of equal parts of taxes and cuts to cover the state’s budget hole, and argued that voters had the right to decide the issue.
Republicans have oppose placing tax extensions or new taxes before the public. Democrats control the Legislature, but lack a two-third majority in either house required to approve new taxes.
Democrats, he added, “have swallowed hard and done their part – they have approved $12.4 billion in painful cuts.”