Brown declares budget talks dead

March 29, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon said he had ended negotiations with Republicans to call a special election at which voters would be asked to extend temporary taxes for another five years.

Brown accused Republican lawmakers have changing their demands and asking for provisions that would make the state’s budget predicament worse.

The governor did not say what he would do next, but he has said in recent weeks that he was considering gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in November that would ask voters to approve the tax extensions.

Doing so, however, might dramatically change the politics surrounding the question. Under Brown’s original plan, voters would have weighed in before most of the taxes expired. They would have been asked to keep the status quo in place.

But if the election is not held until November, Brown will be asking voters to raise taxes. That might be significantly more difficult.

There is also the matter of what the Democrats will do about the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Legislators and Brown have already approved more than $10 billion in spending cuts for that budget. But they were counting on $11 billion from the temporary taxes to fill most of the rest of the state’s budget gap. Without that money, they would have to enact far deeper cuts in order to balance the budget by July 1. Much of that money would likely come from the public schools, since they were largely spared in the first round of cuts.

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