California News

Feb 1, 2011 1:28 AM by Ariel Wesler

Gov. Brown urges lawmakers to let voters decide on tax increases

Governor Jerry Brown gave his State of the State address tonight to a divided legislature.

Brown urged lawmakers to let people decide if they want to extend tax increases or make deeper cuts to California's budget. Lawmakers must find some way to close a $25.4 billion budget gap.

This was Brown's first major speech of his administration since taking office earlier this month.

With a California lawmakers facing $25 billion budget deficit, Governor jerry brown took the podium to reiterate his plan. Let the people decide.

"I believe it would be irresponsible for us to exclude the people from this process. They have a right to vote on this plan. The state belongs to all of us, not just those in this chamber," Brown said.

He wants a ballot initiative this June that would ask voters to extend temporary tax increases. In an earlier broadcast, Cal Poly Political Science Professor Mike Latner said right now, voters are giving the new governor the benefit of the doubt.

"A majority supports his current tax plan that he plans to take to the voters," Dr. Latner said.

But Republicans have said they will block Brown's request for a special election, saying government needs to cut more spending and lift harmful restrictions on businesses.

"Republicans stand united as the only line of defense for California taxpayers. We believe the best solution to help close our deficit is not by raising taxes but by creating private-sector jobs," said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Tulare.

Brown's rallying to put the plan to a vote puts pressure on his opponents.

"He's got this populous message, sort of classic Jerry Brown, that he's going to empower the people to make this decision, while also being very clear that if you don't make the right decision, there's going to be dire consequences," Latner said.

Brown has already shown he's not afraid to cut government spending. He recently ordered state workers to turn in 48,000 state-issued cell phones and wants to reduce the number of state vehicles by half.

Brown has set a March 1 deadline for the legislature to get a ballot measure in time for a special election in June.

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