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Brown's countdown, Day 64: Governor, GOP talk through weekend

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Sacramento Bee March 14, 2011

If things had gone according to plan, Gov. Jerry Brown might be on the campaign trail asking voters to support tax extensions to balance the state budget.

Instead, the Democratic governor spent the weekend negotiating with Republican lawmakers to place his tax package on the ballot in exchange for long-term changes on pensions, spending growth and state regulations.

Today marks the fourth day since Brown's self-imposed budget deadline.

Talks occurred through the weekend and will continue today, said Brown spokesman Gil Duran.

"The fact that talks continue can be a sign of progress," Duran said.

Spokespeople for a splinter group of Senate Republicans negotiating with Brown declined comment.

Neither legislative house has scheduled a vote. The longer lawmakers wait, the less likely the state will be able to hold a special election on June 7. That date is attractive for at least two reasons – it comes 23 days before the end of the fiscal year, giving lawmakers time to maneuver if the taxes don't pass, and the budget election could be combined with a special congressional contest to replace Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he thought a vote would need to take place early this week to give election officials sufficient preparation time before June 7.

There may be another reason Brown and Democrats are anxious to strike a deal soon. The California Republican Party will hold its spring convention in Sacramento starting Friday, and it could become more difficult for the few interested Republican lawmakers to place taxes on the ballot in the face of opposition from party activists.

Brown has proposed an ambitious solution that seeks to solve the current $26.6 billion deficit. His plan relies on saving more than $12 billion by cutting programs and taking money now dedicated for redevelopment, early childhood development, mental health and transit.

It also relies on $14 billion in taxes through June 2012, including $11.2 billion in sales, income and vehicle taxes that voters would decide upon.



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