Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Jerry Brown sought his second stint as governor last year by promising to balance the deficit- riddled state budget without gimmicks.

“Our state is in a real mess, and I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don’t go anywhere,” Brown said in one ad. “We have to make some tough decisions.”

After winning, Brown conducted some showy public conferences and then proposed a budget that split the deficit between spending cuts and taxes requiring voter approval.

“For 10 years,” Brown declared, “we’ve had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”

However, while voters had eliminated the two-thirds vote on budgets, it’s still required for taxes, and Brown couldn’t muster enough Republican support.

Another provision cuts off legislators’ salaries if they don’t pass a budget by June 15, so the majority Democrats ginned up a gimmick-ridden package to meet that deadline, only to see Brown quickly veto it, which stopped their paychecks.

“It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars in new debt,” Brown said.

But with lawmakers screaming about their pay being cut off, they and Brown quickly shifted gears. They cobbled together a new budget that made spending cuts on paper but also relied on a magical new assumption of an extra $4 billion in revenue.

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