Brown rallies public support for vote
Staff and Wire Reports
Posted: 04/06/2011 07:23:04 PM PDT

A week after budget negotiations with GOP leadership collapsed, Gov. Jerry Brown continued to rally support Wednesday for his proposal to close the remaining $15.4 billion deficit.

During Wednesday addresses to health care and law enforcement administrators in Sacramento, Brown remained optimistic and jovial but admonished GOP leaders for holding up the process and warned that an all-cuts budget would dig deeper into already vulnerable sectors.

Among the casualties – University of California undergrads, who could wind up paying $20,000 to $25,000 annual tuition, double current in-state rates.

“I mean, this is tough. We’re cutting back from child care, we’re cutting across the government, and now the question is,
do we double?” Brown asked during a speech to the California Hospital Association.

Pointing to the painful cuts he already has signed off on, Brown told the audience of health care administrators, “You know what they are. Co-payments, cutting back reimbursements, medical reimbursements … taking money from the blind and the disabled.”

So far, Brown has approved $11.2 billion in cuts, leaving $15.4 billion in remaining deficit.

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, berated Republicans for “blocking efforts to pass a fair and balanced budget” and adding insult to injury when they issued the list of 53 demands in exchange for votes that helped tank negotiations last week.

“We’ve had to make the tough decisions, and approved more than $14 billion in budget solutions, which included $10.7 billion in spending cuts,” Hernandez said.

Brown drove the point home to law enforcement leaders that failure to balance the budget with tax extensions would mean devastating cuts to core services – including police and fire departments, universities and K-12 schools.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has said closing a deficit similar to the remaining $15.4 billion shortfall would require nearly $5 billion in cuts to K-12 schools, another $585 million in cuts to community colleges and $1.1 billion from universities – including a 10 percent fee increase at CSU campuses – as well as $1.2 billion in cuts to health and social services.

Brown asked the state’s top law enforcement officials to encourage Republicans to support his budget proposal, repeating that he only needs four votes in all.

“This is an old game. It doesn’t advance the agenda of sitting down like adults and solving the problem,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Claremont, of the governor’s campaign to rally support for his budget proposal.

“There’s no plan of any kind that protects taxpayers or addresses real problems. They’re manipulations of voters’ emotions, and I think it’s a mistake.”

Republicans have taken aim at public employee pensions, regulations and spending, and oppose Brown’s plan to wipe out statewide redevelopment agencies.

Despite ending talks with Republicans last week, Brown said he still hopes to strike a deal for a special election that would ask voters to extend temporary increases on personal, sales and vehicle taxes for another five years.

The deadline to garner the two Republican votes needed in each house to put the measure in a June special election has already passed.

“I was talking to a few Republicans last night who I think are potential votes, and I’m going to keep talking,” he said at the CHA meeting.

While Brown declined to name four Republican lawmakers he said he’d met with Tuesday, Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said he arranged a meeting between the governor and Sens. Tom Berryhill of Modesto and Anthony Carella of Ceres, two of the five GOP senators who had been negotiating with Brown before talks collapsed.

In Brown’s warning about skyrocketing university costs, he said fees already are scheduled to rise more than $900 a year this fall.

Brown said California’s universities and colleges are its “engine of creativity and wealth and well-being.”

Tuition that high would make the UC system the most expensive public universities in the world, said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Education.

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