SACRAMENTO (AP) — In the first State of the State speech of his new administration, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday urged lawmakers to let voters decide the direction of the state as leaders cope with a gaping budget deficit, saying it would be “unconscionable” for them to block his request for a special election.

In a somber address to a joint session of the state Legislature, Brown again asked lawmakers to set aside their partisan differences for the good of California, which faces a $25.4 billion deficit through June 2012.

The Democratic governor has proposed a ballot measure this June that would ask voters to extend temporary increases in the state’s sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years, but Republicans have said they will not allow it to go before voters.

Brown noted the recent political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt, saying the urge to vote had stirred the imagination of people there.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

 KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

“My plan to rebuild California requires a vote of the people, and frankly I believe it would be irresponsible for us to exclude the people from this process,” Brown said. “They have a right to vote on this plan. This state belongs to all of us, not just those of us in this chamber. The voters deserve to be heard.”

The budget shortfall has overwhelmed all other issues since Brown took office at the beginning of January. His budget proposal includes about $12.5 billion in spending cuts and borrowing, in addition to the tax extensions and fees that are part of a plan to raise an additional $12 billion.

Even if his plan is adopted, it will leave little money to pay for a host of state programs. Interest groups already have been lining up in protest over the expected loss of money, including mayors and other local elected officials who object to Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies that divert local tax revenue to developers.

Brown said none of those who have opposed the cuts or taxes has offered credible alternatives.

The Legislature has until March to call the election, but GOP leaders have called the tax plan a “non-starter.” While Democrats are the majority party in the Assembly and Senate, some Republican support is needed to reach the two-thirds vote threshold to place the question on a ballot.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, disagreed with Brown’s contention that Republicans have not offered ideas. She said they have made proposals about public employee pension reform and potential cuts to other state programs, but none has appeared in Brown’s budget plans.

“Don’t just tell me, ‘I’m willing to work on those things if they’re reasonable.’ I want to see those reforms. I want to see what that looks like” in Brown’s plan, Conway said. “And maybe the dance has just begun. Maybe we’ve been talking and talking and now we will get to more specifics.”

Conway and other Republican leaders noted that voters had already rejected extensions of the same taxes in a 2009 special election.

“Voters said in 2009, ‘No, we don’t want to give you two more years of taxes beyond what you’ve already asked for. ‘The voters said this last November, ‘No, we don’t want to pay you an extra $18 surcharge for parks.’ I mean, I don’t know how many times the voters got to tell you ‘no,’ until you figure out the right way to try to sell it,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga. “Is that what we’re doing here?”

While Californians have rejected calls for higher taxes in the past, a survey by the California Public Policy Institute last week found that two-thirds of likely voters say they support Brown’s proposal for a special election. Voters said they were willing to pay more for public schools but do not support increased spending if it goes to pay for prisons, according to the poll.

Brown’s administration has so far shied away from spelling out the anticipated consequences if the tax extensions do not go through, but public schools that get the largest share of funding in the state budget likely would be hit hardest. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Democrats will lay out the harsh choices over the next few weeks.

“People have a right to determine whether or not they want $25 billion worth of cuts,” Steinberg said. “And over the next several weeks, you know, we’ll begin to discuss in some detail what that second $12.5 billion of cuts would mean to classrooms, to the length of the school year, to any services for the elderly or the disabled, to higher education, where the fees are already too high.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (14)
  1. NRA4LIFE says:

    Way to go republicans! Cutting spending is the right choice, but no more tax increases. I have already had enough of 9.75% sales tax! I have already had to cut my spending, and live on a reduced budget, due in part to the highest taxes in the country. Even if it goes to the ballot, hopefully Californians will have the smarts to reject. What i want to see on the ballot is the legislators lose their cars and expense accounts, all funded by taxpayers, that will greatly reduce the deficit.

  2. Ron greene says:

    Brown wants His people, city ,county and state union and non union vote, these puppets elected him and they will do what he says. They can afford tax and fee increases,they got a nice wage increase in 2010 and will get another this year, good, or bad economy they always get there raise,pay back for voting the party line.

  3. Stan says:

    Don’t you ever wonder why this state has more millionaires and billionaires than any other state, yet we can’t keep our schools open or build a road or a train. Will it kill the aristocracy in this state to support the infrastructure that benefits us all by paying their fair share of taxes, not only on their extravagant incomes, but on their extravagant properties? Where is the progressive tax system anymore?

  4. Tired says:

    What a joke.My passenger truck that is a 2006 cost more to renew the registration this year than it did last year..even though its a year older! Plus they tack on a “weight fee” of $80 that is supposed to be charged for commercial trucks,not passenger trucks.But when I contacted DMV to protest..they said it was correct..even though Hummers and many SUV’s weigh more than my Tacoma! A legislator that tried to have it repealed as unfair was shot down before it could even go to the ballot.(Surprise!)The taxes on sales already are staggering..add that to gasoline tax, income tax,and tax for everything else you can think of ..we’re saturated! We already have lost half the equity in our home(we were one of the good guys who got a regular loan and put over $200,00(our retirement money) as a down payment,right before the crisis hit.)Now because of the crooks that caused the real estate debacle..I am paying for,thru no fault of mine..I am totally upsidedown,plus have lost my entire savings.Yet they STILL think they should be able to keep putting their hand in my pocket? NO WAY!!! Cut all the bureacracy,handouts, and special interests, and there will be plenty of money.I’m tired of taking care of the world, and they still want more.

  5. BEEKER D. says:

    How about cutting State Assemblyperson’s and State Senator’s Wages(DRASTICALLY) after all they are the ones that ran up the CREDIT CARD!
    Let them suffer I’ve suffered enough in the last 4 year’s Not getting any raise but that didn’t stop my Taxes,Fee’s and Bridge Toll’s from going UP&UP!

  6. hatersGONNAhate says:

    Brown is doing the right thing, but he is missing a huge piece… state employment. there is no reason why these people should make and/or expense so much.

    There is a lot of FAT and I give Brown credit for trying… however, let’s see how much balls he has to take on the “hidden” political world.

  7. Big G says:

    Same old Democratic rhetoric spun 2011 style. Leave it to the voters too decide. 2 special elections & we voted no already! Yet here we are again, saying leave it too the voters. Tackle the wasteful spending,, lets get rid of all these crony commission jobs that cost us in salray, & pension . Speaking of pensions, lets jsut do awya with this myth that it is taxpayers job to pay for there own & these guys future!!! Lots of ways to get rid of the deficit, besides leaving it too the taxpayers!!!

  8. kawahchan says:

    California Republican Party: We don’t see why Gov. Jerry Brown wants to offer a June’s Special Election to let Californian voters to decide his state budget, that is VERY irresponsible and wasting taxpayer money. Gov. Jerry Brown’s irresponsible governership is his yesterday’s leftover, (R) MEG WHITMAN can do much better than Old Brown to let the California’s blacks and Latinos to decide California future and economic growth.

  9. RealityCheck says:

    HaHaHaHaHa – Just reading these posts leave no doubt that our economy is doomed! None of you fools realize how things actually work. Even if we had the idiotic Meg Whitman as governor, she would not be able to do anything other than what Brown has done so far. Anyone who would spend $100 million of their own money to be governor needs a check-up from the neck up. Believe me I am not a big fan of Jerry either. All the governor can do is recommend cuts. It is up to the legislature to approve the budget. The governor can recommend anything he wants, but it does not mean he will get it or anything near it. There are no penalties to the senators or members of the legislature for going beyond the budget deadline so it will be business as usual. We will go 8 or 9 months past the deadline before they finally cobble something together that will do no good. All the politicians are just like us, greedy and self-serving. As long as their piece of the pie is not taken they don’t care. Just like Mr. Tacoma Truck posted or the NRA Life Member. Sorry folks but in addition to cutting programs they HAVE TO RAISE TAXES in order to get us out of the trouble we are in. Its because no one wants to have “their programs cut” and “I already pay enough in taxes” that nothing will get done. Big G hit on some good points about getting rid of all the idiotic commissions and the chronyistic jobs.

  10. George Frank says:

    Lets’s talk honestly….you crazy Californians did it to yourself.There is a reason the rest of the WORLD laughs at you and calls you the land of fruits and nuts….it’strue….THEY DO. They may love to visit your beautiful state, but they are also happy when they leave. You live in a bubble where you vote for anyone with the letter D (democrat) next to their name regardless of whether they are qualified or not and regardless of their past records. You voted two failed politicians back into office again….Brown and Boxer….are you kidding me? As we know no Governor nor one senator can save a state, but it just goes to show what your priorities are….democrat, democrat, democrat. I am a middle of the road ticket splitting voter, voting for both Republicans and Democrats alike based purely on ability and qualifictions.You have been blinded by your crazy Californian bubble in which you believe you are smarter and know whats best for the rest of the world. Well, where did all of your upside down priorities get you….over regulation, tax and spend politicians, failed school systems. When will there be a wake up call in Cali. Your old ways make for a dreadfully failed future. If you really knew more than those capitalist, reasonably regulating rednecks in Texas then why is their economy starting to thrive again and ours continuing to tank. Wow…what a concept, maybe we should consider this. But you won’t. This will go in one ear and out the other and you will blame past governors (R) for your problems, obviously failing to acknowledge the unbelievable failures of the man who was in office before him, and you will continue to be lemmings who vote for anyone with a D next to their names, rather than the indiviual thinking entrepeneurs of the past who made this great state what it was before your uber post modernist politicians decided to give away all your money to people who refuse to work, leech on your healthcare systems and contribute nothing to society. 22 year old drug dealers who sell crack in your ghettos (Oakland) and collect welfare money provided by hardworking Americans. Stupid is as stupid does I guess, Wake up and smell the coffee California….your future economic stability is relying on it.

    1. Rt in Danville says:

      Spoken like a true redneck (again). I’ve read your previous posts, you are NOT muddle of the road. Why don’t you rail against white women on welfare and red states like Neb, Tenn, Ala, Idaho, WVA, etc that vote strictly “R” and are federally subsidized by the taxes from “D” states like Ca, NY. Why is California’s economy still larger than most nations? Yes Georgy Boy, Calif subsidizes the poor red states with our wealth. Republican socialism at it’s highest level. Distribute the wealth to the poor red states. We’re tired of supporting the red necks on welfare in the trailer parks that sit on their butts all day drinking moonshine. If you hate Cali so much, you can move to a red state and be a part of the problem.

  11. D Chen says:

    High tax in CA is killing jobs. If you talk to a IT manager, he can hire 3 UC graduates in Washington state and 2 in CA. We have great schools. But students will follow jobs. We used to be able to afford higher tax because most of the high tech company is in CA. With e-meeting technology, it is easier to have a face-to-face e-meeting in your office than physically in one meeting room. The benefit to be near your customers is no longer justified high CA tax. I know many UC Berkeley EE masters can not find a job. At the same time, the media is only care about higher tax or less money for school. If you can not find a job anyway, while waste your time and money in school!!