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Jerry Brown State Of The State Speech Another Chance To Tell Budget Naysayers: Give Me Alternatives

Paresh Dave |
January 31, 2011 | 12:12 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

With a possible referendum on half his budget proposal looming in 126 days, Brown will use his State of the State speech on Monday night to try to keep public support for his budget plan growing.
With a possible referendum on half his budget proposal looming in 126 days, Brown will use his State of the State speech on Monday night to try to keep public support for his budget plan growing.

Dumping useless cars, cell phones, furniture and departments, Gov. Jerry Brown has already begun to cut from areas where he has control.

Acting on big things—taxes, schools, prisons, courts and health care—requires the help of about a dozen prominent organizations and at least 79 out of the 117 legislators in Sacramento. All of those budget stakeholders have been chatting with Brown since December.

For the third time this month, Brown again asks all of California to lend their ears to him. Beginning at 5:08 p.m. Monday, Brown's State of the State speech is unlikely to veer from the message he's already adopted: take money away from every imaginable corner of California by either cutting state subsidies or keeping higher taxes in place.

The only untouchables appear to be the prisons (because of legal orders) and K-12 education (because of the high regard Californians have for their public schools).

Brown's plan has early public support, the first poll of the year says, but he must maintain that support for five more months.

Thirty-seven days remain until his self-imposed March 10 deadline to reach a budget agreement with legislators, and 126 days remain until a special election to extend a series of tax increases for five years would be held. Those $12 billon in taxes would disappear in 151 days on July 1 if not extended.

Where To Watch Jerry Brown's State Of The State Speech?

You can find it online beginning at 5:08 p.m. Monday at calchannel.com.

Without approval from voters in June to keep the taxes in place, Brown would be forced to make up the deficit with more cuts than he's already proposed. He's refused to detail those cuts, saying that they are too horrible to see. Such a fiasco would anger Democractic supporters, which is why Democrats in the Legislature want Brown to start scaring voters with a “Yes on taxes...or else” mindset.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week could also fire up anti-tax groups that have said they are unwilling to compromise on revenue-raising solutions unless Brown considers smarter deficit-smashing policies, including forcing new state hires to contribute to their pensions and giving private companies greater control of the state prison system.

In devising his budget, Brown adopted a mantra of sharing the pain equally. He made both the left and the right uneasy, demanding sacrifices from the rich, the poor and the middle. Though the cuts may not necessarily be as equal as Brown makes them out to be, Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar never advanced a budget proposal with as wide an impact as this one.

Brown has kept happy most of the powerful groups he needs to help him convince voters to approve of tax extensions.

For one, the California Teacher's Association's council of nearly 900 representatives meets later this week to take a formal position on Jerry Brown's budget proposal. They will likely applaud his “balanced” approach—one that has proposed staving off tough cuts from the K-12 education budget but has threatened to punish the higher education system with a combined $1.4 billion in cuts.

Spokeswoman Sandra Jackson said in the past the CTA has been supportive of additional ways to raise revenue. That past position suggests the CTA could play a vital role in championing a June ballot measure to extend the trio of taxes.

Other groups, normally opposed to tax increases, may stand pat, believing that the companies they represent may end up prospering more if California were on stable financial footing.

To see where many of the major players in state politics stand, roll your mouse around the interactive infographic below, which we will regularly update. Some the groups and legislators haven't been reached yet, so we haven't included any details about their positions.


To reach reporter Paresh Dave, click here.

Find him on Twitter: @peard33.



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