Brown Stumps For Legislative Support of Temporary Tax Extension

Two days before the Legislature’s often-missed deadline to pass a budget, Gov. Jerry Brown took his case to the court of public opinion attempting to push a handful of Republicans to vote for an extension of temporary taxes set to expire in two weeks.

Backed by a diverse coalition of business groups, educators, labor and law enforcement Brown called on lawmakers to pass the plan he proposed or “something very close to it” and do it soon.

“We cannot do it with just the majority party. We need four Republican votes. We gotta bite the bullet. We gotta act like adults and rise above our little comfort zones,” Brown said at a June 13 Capitol press conference.

Two GOP votes are needed in the Assembly and the Senate to extend a 1-cent higher state sales tax rate and a 1.15 percent vehicle license fee beyond their expiration, which is July 1.

Brown insists voters decide if they want to keep the taxes for five years, as he proposed in his January budget. The Democratic governor’s plan attempts to close a $26.6 billion gap between revenue and spending commitments with a roughly even split between revenue and cuts.

Lawmakers approved more than $11 billion in cuts in March.

But GOP legislators have balked at providing the votes to place the tax extension on the ballot without what they consider “reforms” of the state’s public employee retirement system, the ability of the state to increase spending, regulations and environmental laws.

Senate Republicans released this proposal on June 13.

It’s unclear what reception it will receive from Democrats.

Jean Ross, director of the California Budget Project, took a dim view of the spending cap:

“The spending cap proposed by Senate Republicans would limit California’s future by placing an arbitrary stranglehold on the state’s ability to improve our schools, care for our aged, and respond nimbly to future challenges.”

Among those present at Brown’s press conference were representatives of the California Retailers Association, the California Business Roundtable, the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, counties, the California State Sheriffs Association and the California School Board Association, among others.

All favor passing a bill that will continue the taxes at least until voters have a chance to consider whether they want to keep them, tentatively in a September election.

Bill Dombrowski the head of the California Retailers Association said his board had voted to support Brown’s proposed five-year extension of the taxes.

“What we need is to get this uncertainty removed. What we need is to end this pain. We’re already seeing the effect of cuts to government in our business,” Dombrowski said.

Martha Fluor, the president of the school board association and a member of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board, identified herself as a “lifelong Republican.”

Asked how she felt about her fellow Republicans delaying budget passage she said her job is do what is best for students and schools and that she expected GOP lawmakers to do the same.

“I’m really frustrated and angry with them,” Fluor said. “They could have (put the tax question on the ballot) in March and we wouldn’t be going through this agony in our schools.

“I’ve had to cut $50 million out of my budget in three years. The kids are suffering. Our kids are less prepared and if we want an educated workforce we don’t have it right now.”

Both the June 13 Senate and Assembly floor sessions were perfunctory and did not advance a budget resolution.

Floor sessions are scheduled for June 14.





Filed under: Budget and Economy

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