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Gov. Jerry Brown doubles down on California measure changing recall process, calling it 'eminently reasonable'

State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Compton), left, and Gov. Jerry Brown talk about funding for projects under the state transportation bill, SB1, at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson. (Christian K. Lee/ Los Angeles Times)
State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Compton), left, and Gov. Jerry Brown talk about funding for projects under the state transportation bill, SB1, at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson. (Christian K. Lee/ Los Angeles Times)

The partisan volleys have continued this week in the effort to recall state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) over his vote to pass an increase in the gas tax. Those seeking to recall Newman submitted more than enough signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot, if they're all deemed valid.

Newman supporters looking to halt the recall filed a lawsuit Thursday, claiming signature gatherers had misled voters. And Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that makes changes to long-standing recall rules, an effort that Republicans have decried as an attempt by Democrats to "rig the system" to protect one of their own.

Brown seemed to double down on that measure Friday at a press conference at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where he discussed the new gas tax, calling the new recall process "eminently reasonable."

The measure allows voters up to 30 days to remove their signature from a recall petition and creates a new process to review costs associated with a recall election. Brown said the bill provides an opportunity for "people who have been hoodwinked" to change their mind.

"It's all about truth and giving people the opportunity to make sure that their vote and their signature is knowingly given," Brown. "The only people who would be against that are people who wanted to fool people and don't want to test it in court or in the light of day."

Brown's comments came after a roundtable discussion in which he and state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Compton) spoke about the importance of directing transportation dollars raised by the gas tax increase to businesses owned by women, minorities and people who are disabled. Brown cast it as part of a larger question of equality and opportunity in America.

But the discussion took place even as Brown mused about efforts to repeal the controversial tax package, which is expected to raise $52 billion over 10 years for road repairs and other transportation projects.

"If people want to not fund the roads, then they can put something on the ballot and maybe change things," Brown said. "But I think most people in California want to fix the roads."

Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who is running for governor, has filed a ballot measure to repeal the gas tax

Brown dismissed a recent poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, which said that a majority of registered voters oppose the gas tax increases Brown and legislators recently approved.

"That was a poll that said, 'Do you want to raise a tax?'" Brown said. "Of course people are going to say no."

Brown added that when voters are given "concrete situations" like education and roads, they're more likely to support tax increases.

"I think Californians are always leery of taxes. I'm leery of taxes," Brown said. "You want to drive around on gravel roads? I've got a gravel road out in front of my house in the country. It's not bad. But I don't think that's what people want. I think they want real, paved roads — and to have paved roads you've got to spend real money."

Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.

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