California Budget Picture Looks Murky With Stalled Talks

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The end of budget talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican lawmakers has shrouded California’s fiscal future even more, leaving officials cautious about publicly saying what options remain.

Lawmakers and Brown’s office on Wednesday would say only that they are discussing their next steps.

By giving up on talks with Republican legislators, Brown effectively abandoned his push for a June special election to renew temporary sales, vehicle and income taxes the state Legislature approved two years ago.

The Democratic governor had wanted to close the state’s $26.6 billion budget gap with a near equal amount of cuts and taxes.

Though immediate tax extensions seem to have been pushed out of the equation, California’s leading labor and teachers unions were holding out hope that state lawmakers will put a tax initiative before voters.

“We still support that approach, we haven’t abandoned that approach,” said Mike Myslinski, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association.

He said lawmakers and the governor need to get back to the negotiating table.

In the absence of a June election, the governor could also pursue a November ballot initiative to ask Californians to pay higher taxes. Democratic interest groups would need to gather and qualify enough signatures to get it on the ballot in time.

Otherwise, Democratic lawmakers would have to make billions of dollars more in cuts to programs that are already facing shortfalls.

Brown last week signed into law bills that reduced California’s deficit from $26.6 billion to about $15.4 billion through a mix of spending cuts and fund shifts, including about $7.4 billion from the state’s welfare-to-work program, services for the developmentally disabled and health insurance for the poor.

Public schools that receive more than 40 percent of the state’s general fund revenues would likely be among the hardest hit in an all-cuts budget.

Solving the remaining deficit with cuts alone is unlikely, according to a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

“We don’t think anybody in the Capitol, legislators on either side of the aisle, will stand for an all-cuts budget,” Mark Hedlund said.

But a labor spokesman said that might not be such a bad idea if it sends GOP lawmakers a message that taxes are necessary.

“After voters and constituents see what those cuts might mean, there’s a possibility for cooler heads on the Republican side to prevail,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • sol

    A great victory for california tax payers and small businesses!

    • Danny

      And terrible news for students. You can’t teach a room of 40 or more students. You can barely keep then under control. The students we ignore today will the ones who will be caring (or not caring) for us later. Short sighted.



  • Drut

    What about pension reform? Perhaps the liberal public service unions who backed brown don’t like that idea much. There is plenty to cut there without having to cut aid to the poor. CTA is one of the biggest communist around. Remove all the anchor babies, and it would free up all the teachers to teach American citizens!

    • lori

      Anchor babies are American citizens dork

  • swhitS

    What Jerry and others want is for the taxpayer just to hand over their whole entire paycheck and give it to the illegals and anchors but this taxpayer is done. the only tax that makes everyone pay.

    • lori

      I agree about the illegals. My grandparents came the right way, the legal way. Have no sympathy for them and should not be using the system for their benefit. I pay taxes , they should too. no free rides.

      It’s not the kids fault that their parents didn’t follow the rules so don’t penalize them. They should send the parents back wherever they came from and give the ‘anchors” a choice to stay or leave with parents and give up their citizenship. Done.

  • JAB

    What if we don’t pay the legislators, their staff, and cut their pensions an appropriate amount, if they don’t pass a balanced budget on time. Don’t pay them for the time there isn’t a budget. No work – no pay. And for all the free loaders on welfare and food stamps-Make them work. Clean the streets, parks, beaches. No more free handouts for sitting on their bottoms watching Jerry Springer or Oprah! And for taxes; eliminate income tax- it’s not the government’s business how much money a person makes. Just implement a across the board sales tax-no loopholes. If you want to buy a car for $100,000 fine just pay the tax or a 1000 pair of designer shoes-good for you-just pay the tax.

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