Plan caters to GOP, but many still aren’t onboard
James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 01/16/2011 07:02:08 AM PST

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes many kinds of cuts and reforms Republicans have long requested, but local Republican lawmakers have given the proposal a lukewarm reception.

At the same time, despite including the same kind of deep cuts to social services Democrats fought when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, Democrats say they generally see the plan as realistic.

Several Republicans called Brown’s plan “a good starting point,” but they say it doesn’t make enough cuts and relies on solutions that might not materialize.

“Gov. Brown has folded into this budget plan some of the ideas we’ve brought up over the last few years,” said Sen. Bob Huff, R-Walnut, who represents the Chino area and was named Wednesday as vice-chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Among those ideas are tightening eligibility guidelines for the state’s in-home care program – something Huff said he wanted to see in the plan – as well as cutting welfare payments and making families eligible for welfare for a shorter period of time.

But Huff also said Brown’s plan is “a budget that has bailing wire holding it together.” He echoed a report from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, saying the budget includes many “risky assumptions.”

The biggest of those risky assumptions, said Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, is that voters will approve extended tax increases. Brown’s budget assumes that the state will hold a June special election to ask voters to approve an extension of tax rates that were hiked in 2009.

“Unfortunately, the governor’s proposal is not a complete plan because it assumes voters will support major tax increases, but doesn’t provide solutions if they reject them,” Dutton said. “If voters say `no’ to the tax hikes, as Republicans expect, it means a $10 billion budget hole come June.”

Indeed, many Republicans say there’s no chance voters will approve extending the increases to income, sales and car taxes.

“I think any kind of tax proposal that goes out to the people is dead-on-arrival,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Claremont. “They’re going to shoot it down two to one. It’s a waste of taxpayer money to even hold that election.”

Donnelly said it’s now up to the Legislature “to drill down into the details and come up with the rest of the cuts.”

Democrats, meanwhile, aren’t sure what additional cuts Republicans want.

“I heard some of the comments that there aren’t enough cuts,” said Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair. “I don’t know what they’re looking at.”

McLeod said she wants to study the impact of some of the specific cuts Brown proposes, but overall, she said “probably most of (the proposal) is realistic.”

While Democrats have generally fought the kind of program cuts Brown has proposed – cuts to welfare, services for seniors and health-care programs for the poor – they seem happy at least that cuts make up only about half of Brown’s plan to close the budget deficit.

“He has many bold suggestions; some of these are not to my liking,” said Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto. “What I do like is that it is a balanced proposal: about 50 percent of the budget addresses cuts and savings, an additional 50 percent presents revenue solutions.”

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