Last Line of Defense Before Taxes

Katy Grimes: Despite Democrats saying Thursday that “GOP influence is fading” now that budget talks have blown up between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican legislators, Republicans said that Brown called off the talks just as they were getting close.

And, since Republicans have thus far held off the budget and the governor’s tax extensions, influence and relevance is in the eye of the beholder.

Republican Legislative staff report receiving phone calls from constituents angry and worried about teachers, schools and services being cut. But callers are reminded that Republicans are still the last line of defense before tax increases.

And, Republicans appear to be holding out – how long is anyone’s guess.

Democratic public relations experts have tried to make it appear that its party is a united force. But while the spin machine has been successful at projecting this image, Republicans describe Democrats as anything but unified, and say Democrats are divided over the cuts and even tax increases. And the 31 percent spending increase over the next three years with the governor’s proposed budget has some Democratic legislators uncomfortable.

As for what the five-year tax extensions will bring in, the assumption that the money will save schools and teaching jobs is off base. Only $6.6 billion (12 percent) of a total $55 billion taxes collected over the five years would actually go to education – the rest (88 percent) would go to “other” spending.

Senate and Assembly Republicans report that their core issues have not changed during the budget talks – reforms of public pensions, small business regulatory reform, a spending cap, job creation measures and tax reform.

Now that Brown has made a few recommendations on pension reform issues, it is apparent that Republicans have made an impact. This would not have come about without their influence, fading or not.

APR. 1, 2011

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