By David Siders and Laurel Rosenhall
Published: Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
One week after budget talks with Republican lawmakers collapsed, Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he is again talking with Republicans and will hit the road this week to “mobilize support” for higher taxes.
“I’m going to do everything I can to convince the Republicans here to vote for the tax extensions, to put them on the ballot,” Brown said. “And I’m going to go throughout this state to mobilize support.”
The Democratic governor was seeking two Republican votes in each house to put on the June ballot a five-year extension of 2009 tax increases on vehicles, income and sales, but he broke off negotiations last week.
Brown said Tuesday he talked to some Republicans over the weekend, though he declined to name them, and characterized the state of talks as “a little quiet.”
Brown, who once hoped to have a budget deal by March 10, is now preparing to revise his budget plan based on post-tax season revenue estimates, known as the May revision. That plan could include alternative measures to address the state’s now-$15.4 billion budget deficit. He said a voter initiative to bypass Republicans in the Legislature is the only option left to him other than an all-cuts budget if he cannot reach agreement on taxes with the GOP.
“If they say ‘no,’ at some point we’ll have to take it to the people via initiative,” Brown told reporters before addressing the California Medical Association at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. “But that’s not something I’m going to be doing in the next 30 days.”
Brown discussed an initiative in greater detail than he has previously, saying he is “working on it, but I want to make sure that there is a wider group of people that want to support that.”
Later Tuesday, after meeting with leaders of the three branches of California’s public higher education system, Brown said an all-cuts budget remains unacceptable.
“I don’t think the people of California want to wreck the state,” Brown said as he stood beside the college leaders outside his office.
Brown has already signed bills that cut $1.4 billion from higher education for 2011-12. California State University campuses are planning to admit 10,000 fewer students, some University of California campuses are admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition, and community college fees are going up $10 per unit.
Mark Yudof, president of the UC system, said changes at the colleges will be even more drastic if higher education faces deeper cuts.
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