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Democrats Preparing Alternate California Budget Plan As Deadline Looms

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California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) –  Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday were preparing two budgets — one with an extension of expiring tax increases and one without — as a Wednesday legislative deadline loomed.

The dueling plans are being driven by two dynamics: Lawmakers will not be paid if they miss their June 15 deadline to send a balanced budget to the governor; and Republican lawmakers are reluctant to extend rate hikes to the sales and vehicle taxes that will expire at the end of the month.

All sides generally agree they have the votes to call a special election later this year for voters to decide whether to renew the expiring tax hikes. But it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Republicans will support extending the taxes over the summer to cover the period before the election.

That leaves Democrats to consider passing a budget that relies primarily on additional spending cuts and internal funding shifts. So far, neither the Assembly nor the Senate is detailing how that alternative budget would look.

“You’re putting the cart before the horse,” said Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. “The governor didn’t lay out trigger cuts in his May revise, and we’re going with that.”

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, said last month that lawmakers essentially must pass two budgets. One would take into account the revenue from renewed tax increases, while the other would list specific spending cuts to be “triggered if voters reject the taxes.”

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to put the tax question before voters in a special election this September. The ballot measure would ask voters if they are willing to renew temporary increases to the sales, vehicle and personal income taxes that were approved in 2009. All will expire by June 30 unless renewed by the Legislature.

The personal income tax increase already has expired but would be renewed for four years starting in 2012 if voters approve.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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