Gov. Gets Snarky With Harkey

Katy Grimes: In a surprise appearance today, Governor Jerry Brown met with the Conference Committee on the Budget in order to push legislators to vote for his proposal to place tax increase extensions on the ballot in a June special election.

After Brown made his presentation to the committee, peppered with his straightforward, ad-lib jocularity, legislators had a chance to comment and ask Brown questions.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, always a budget hawk, told Brown that he has 2,000 bills headed for his desk from legislators, most of them adding regulations. “We are killing the state’s private sector employment with regulations,” said Harkey. “Businesses are fleeing across the border to Yuma. I mean, how desperate can you be?”

While Harkey got a laugh at her question, she asked Brown if he would say “no” to more regulatory bills. And then she suggested a 20 percent across-the-board cut in state agencies, with no personnel cuts. Harkey said her 20 percent agency cut would put $1.2 billion back into the state’s budget.

“We are saying “yes” to all of the cuts,” Harkey told Brown about Republicans. “I’m very hurt and insulted that you say we always say no. But you want us to say yes to more taxes. We just can’t support this.”

The governor responded, rapid-fire. “If we hit prisons with 20 percent cuts, it will be pretty scary. We need to use a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. We are making cuts,” said Brown.

“I am not talking about new taxes – I’m talking about the ones people have gotten used to,” Brown said.

And then Brown offered to debate Harkey in her home county of Orange County – but only if she voted to approve putting his tax increase extension on the ballot.

Harkey indicated that trading her vote on tax increases for a local debate was not going to happen under any circumstances.

FEB. 24, 2011

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