Republicans Say No to Cooperation with Brown
By Bob Reid
California Majority Report
It has been barely two days since Governor Jerry Brown gave his "State of the State" message reaching out to both the Republicans in the Legislature and the citizens of California on the tough love message he gave on California's budget crisis when the party of NO, The Republicans, said that the budget was Brown's problem and he is on his own.
This means the Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate will not vote to join the democrats in placing on the June ballot the measures to extend the already existing tax measures to complete the Governor's budget proposal. Gov. Jerry Brown chided Republicans for not having an alternative plan. GOP leaders said that proposing a balanced budget is the governor's job, not theirs.
Republicans said they have for years put out ideas for changing the state that have been summarily rejected by the majority Democratic Legislature, and they have no reason to expect something different. The challenge from Brown is a red herring, they said, and an attempt to knock Republicans off their message. Listen to how that sounds to the average citizen, "Democrats want to knock Republicans off message by asking them to cooperate in being part of the solution."
"The governor is the one who is supposed to prepare a balanced budget," said state Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County), who is the top Republican on the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. "The governor put out his own budget with an $11-to-$12 billion hole in it. That's not our responsibility, that's his responsibility." He added later, "We're the minority party here, we don't have a lot of say."
Brown's budget proposal relies on $12.5 billion in cuts and fund shifts and $14 billion in tax increases and extensions, with $2 billion of that going to support public schools above the legally required base amount.
Although voters in November changed the state Constitution to allow a budget to be passed by a majority of the Legislature instead of the previous two-thirds requirement, Brown wants a two-thirds majority vote to have a special election in June, and he wants his proposed cuts put in place on a faster timeline. Doing that requires a two-thirds vote.
Democrats are two votes short of a two-thirds majority in the Assembly and three short in the Senate. The Republicans have said under no circumstances will they provide the necessary vote to reach the 2/3 majority to place these measures on the June ballot. The democratic majority as we speak are now seeking legal opinions to use the spirit of the passage of prop 25 to use a simple majority to get these proposals on the June ballot without the help of the Republicans.
Picture this if you will; The Republicans are willing to deny their own constituents an opportunity to vote yay or nay on these ballot measures. They will not be able to be part of the solution as Governor Brown has asked them to be by voting for these extensions of already existing taxes for five years. They won't be able to be part of the solution to retain much needed social programs that provide a safety net for those in need, support for the University of California, K-12 and the State College and Community College systems. They will not be a part of the solution to keep our parks open to the public and tourists.
The California Republican Party risks - despite the better efforts of a few moderates like Sam Blakeslee, Anthony Canella, and Bill Emerson - becoming irrelevant to the people of California.
I urge you all to consider the alternative of not having the opportunity to vote yes on these important measures in June. Look at what will have to be cut out of the budget to meet the draconian cuts to balance the budget without any increased revenue stream. Look at what this will do to our credit rating. The outside world will look at California in fiscal chaos and say, "No way are we doing business there." There is no way to plan on a multiple year basis what the financial climate will be in the Golden State.
The Party of No is alive and well in your Legislature.
Bob Reid is a long time Capitol staffer, most recently working for Assembymember Paul Krekorian. This article originally appeared on the California Majority Report.