Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
March 31, 2011

Updated at 1:40 p.m. to include response from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

Two days after Gov. Jerry Brown called off talks and suggested Republicans were obstructionist, Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton and his budget point man, Sen. Bob Huff, held a news conference today to explain their moves over the last week.

Dutton said first lady Anne Gust Brown “yelled” at him in one meeting with the governor last Wednesday over a lack of cooperation.

“Frankly, I was yelled at more than I was talked to,” Dutton said, “and mostly by Mrs. Brown, not even Gov. Brown.”

Brown press secretary Gil Duran blasted Dutton later.

“And the dog barked at him, too,” Duran said. “Big girls don’t cry. The real issue here is the fact that schoolchildren, the elderly and the poor are going to be crushed if these reckless Republicans don’t get their act together and make a reasonable deal for the good of the people. Given the magnitude of the situation, we really don’t have time for Bob Dutton’s feelings.”

Rather than demands, Dutton said he saw their now famous budget list as a starting point to gain clarity over where the governor and Republicans could agree. He said such lists were typical of past “Big Five” budget negotiations that involved the four legislative leaders and the governor.

Asked why he waited until the end to show Brown that list, Dutton blamed Brown for not asking him to join talks earlier. In prior weeks, Brown had negotiated with a group of five Republican senators seen as more amenable than their colleagues to striking a compromise.

“The governor never asked for my help,” Dutton said.

Duran said Dutton “put himself on the sidelines” and that the problem was the “erratic nature of their communication.”

The Republican leader said he believes a spending cap and pension changes need to go on the ballot to satisfy GOP concerns. He was vague about how much Republicans are willing to negotiate in the coming months, though he said he didn’t believe there would be any Senate GOP votes for tax extensions that didn’t go on the ballot.

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