By Steven Harmon
Bay Area News Group
Posted: 01/23/2013 02:36:42 PM PST
Updated: 01/23/2013 02:57:31 PM PST

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown will take center stage Thursday morning when he gives his State of the State address. But he’ll have to keep his eye on restless Democratic lawmakers — fresh off winning two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Legislature — who consider themselves equal partners in a brand new era of political dominance.

The irony is that the governor’s own party’s power surge could be as much of a headache for Brown as were the Republicans, who thwarted him on tax hike measures over the last two years.

With super-majorities in the Senate and Assembly for the first time since the 1880s, Democrats can override any Brown veto in what could turn into a test of wills between two branches of government controlled by the same party.

Brown has cautioned Democrats to avoid the political perils of overreaching by asking for more spending — especially on the heels of securing more than $6 billion in new annual revenues when voters approved Proposition 30 tax hikes on the wealthy and on purchases. Democratic leaders have echoed some of Brown’s caution, but it may not be easy to hold back rank-and-file legislators who in recent years have reluctantly agreed to billions of dollars in cuts to the poor, elderly and disabled.

“There is definitely a debate to be had,” said Ben Tulchin, a Democratic pollster and political strategist. “I just can’t believe all Democrats will sit there and go ‘OK, I’m happy with Prop. 30 and I’ll settle for the fact that deeper cuts were not made — but we can’t restore essential services.'”

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