Legislature Should Mourn Deadline

by CalWatchdog Staff | March 10, 2011 10:45 am

Katy Grimes: This morning, both houses of the Legislature met ostensibly to vote on a budget. But nothing was accomplished except more “in memorium” speeches about people who have died. They should be mourning the budget talks.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown’s asked Democratic leaders in the Legislature to delay a vote on his budget plan, so that negotiations can continue with Republicans.

Brown’s self-imposed budget deadline of March 10 has now come and gone. There seems to be little more than ideological squabbling and child-like stubbornness taking place between Brown and legislators. And we can only hope that no secret deals are being made with Republicans.

After insisting several times publicly that Republicans bring their budget ideas to him, five Republican senators met with Brown earlier in the week, but said they reached an impasse in budget talks.

After the meeting, the senators wrote a letter to Brown and said, “We accepted your invitation to bring you our ideas on important structural reforms and willingly took to heart your admonition ‘to get out of our comfort zone’. Although it is clear that you engaged in our conversations seriously, it appears we have reached an impasse in our discussions about how to move the state forward.”

Signed by Sens. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) and Tom  Berryhill (R-Modesto), the senators said they presented proposals for a spending cap, pension reform, and tax and regulatory reforms, but they said the proposals were outright rejected or going to be watered down.

At the heart of the issue is Brown’s budget proposal to put the 2009 tax increases on the June ballot to extend them another five years, instead of allowing them to expire July 1. And much of the media keeps repeating the Brown administration’s mantra that the proposal is “a balanced and a fair solution,” and “not really even a tax increase since we are all used to the taxes anyway.” However, most people I speak with see the tax extensions as a tax increase.

If Brown’s tax extensions are to make it to the ballot, Republicans want to offer California’s voters several reform options to vote on, as well.

Pension reform, spending caps, tax cuts and small business regulatory reform are the primary issues Republicans are offering. But if the inactivity and apparent lack of urgency coming out of the Legislature is any indication, it could be a long weekend.

It appears that Legislators will be on-call over the weekend should budget talks produce the need for their vote.

MAR. 10, 2011

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