By Kevin Yamamura
kyamamura@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 – 8:13 am

To maneuver his budget through the Legislature and raise the millions of dollars necessary for a successful ballot campaign, Gov. Jerry Brown will have to align the many facets of his plan just right. The Democratic governor wants a two-thirds, bipartisan vote from lawmakers to cut spending and to ask voters for higher taxes, striking at the core of the Capitol’s ideological divide. His plan touches so many levels of government that almost every interest group in California has a stake.

A major challenge for Brown will be to build a strong coalition with enough well-financed interests to run a successful campaign while calming the fears of anybody else with a war chest.

Despite creative legal theories suggesting that a Democratic-only vote could get the job done, political experts say that path would be foolhardy since campaign opponents could easily paint the plan as partisan.

Most groups have not taken a formal position, but we assess where the major political powers are likely to stand in the months ahead:

K-12 EDUCATORS

Brown crafted his budget in sucha way that K-12 schools stand to gain or lose the most by the tax measure on the special election ballot. Win, and schools can survive the year with minimal reductions. Lose, and they face several billion dollars in cuts.

Schools also stand to gain from Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

This should translate into hefty support from the California Teachers Association and other educator groups, which are expected to lead the fight for the tax measure.

BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS

California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg called Brown’s plan “balanced” last week and said businesses are concerned most with creating long-term certainty for the state budget. He did not rule out supporting the package.

The chamber backed a shorter extension of tax hikes in 2009, which voters rejected. Brown likely needs the chamber’s help to persuade legislative Republicans to vote for the package, as well as help finance a ballot campaign. The chamber’s most powerful members would prefer general tax increases over targeted industry tax hikes.

LABOR UNIONS

Labor groups laud Brown’s call for more state revenues. But they oppose his deep cuts in programs such as In-Home Supportive Services.

Service Employees International Union State Council, which represents many IHSS workers, opposed the 2009 tax ballot measure because it contained a rainy-day fund that controlled long-term spending. But voters are set to consider a spending-control mechanism in 2012 apart from Brown’s plan, and now labor groups are expected to support the Democratic governor’s tax proposal.

Brown could win a boost from local police and fire unions, who stand to gain revenue from his elimination of redevelopment agencies.

CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

Brown has proposed ongoing10 percent pay cuts for workers whose unions did not sign deals with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, including the 35,000-member California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

CCPOA backed Brown in the gubernatorial election. Brown intends to apply the pay cut to the union’s members. But he has proposed a truth-in-budgeting change that allocates more money to prison employee spending. He wants to send juvenile justice operations to counties, which could cost CCPOA positions.

CCPOA issued a memo stating that “we are cautiously optimistic that compromises we propose may supplant many of these initial proposals.”

TARGETED INDUSTRIES

Oil, entertainment, alcohol and tobacco companies donated heavily to the 2009 ballot measure to extend higher taxes because they were spared taxes that focus on their businesses.

In particular, look for Brown to seek help from the oil industry. Democrats have called for an oil extraction tax the past few years, but Brown opted not to include one in his budget package. For that, oil firms may be grateful.

Tobacco giants will be busy fighting an initiative to impose a $1-per-pack tax for cancer research and smoking prevention.

CITIES

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said this week that Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies and tax-incentive “enterprise zones” is a “non-starter.”

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