Villaraigosa takes aim at Jerry Brown in Sacramento speech

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to Sacramento on Tuesday and called out Gov. Jerry Brown for “aiming low” and being unwilling to challenge Proposition 13.

“Gov. Brown, I say we need to have the courage to test the voltage in some of these so-called third-rail issues, beginning with Proposition 13,” read an advance copy of his speech to the Sacramento Press Club this afternoon.


He said the state budget passed by legislative Democrats and signed by Brown earlier this year simply “patched the leaks” of the state’s unstable fiscal ship, but did little to solve the state’s long-term problems.

After failing to earn bipartisan support for his plan for higher vehicle, income and sales taxes in the Legislature, Brown has said he is working with various interest groups to craft a new tax plan for the ballot in 2012. Brown has been unwilling to discuss publicly what mix of taxes he is considering, but has been shy about suggesting changes to Proposition 13, the limit on state property taxes passed by voters in 1978.

Villaraigosa offered the governor some ideas.

He talked about eliminating property tax protections for businesses and eliminating the corporate tax. Villaraigosa also embraced an idea floated by the good-government group California Forward and others to lower the state income tax, but to create a new tax on services.

With his speech Tuesday, Villaraigosa is the second potential Democratic successor to Brown to outline an economic plan. Last month, Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, who ran against Brown in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, outlined a jobs plan for California. Since failing to pass his budget in June, Brown has given little clue about his plans to address the state’s ongoing multibillion dollar budget deficit and persistent 12% unemployment.

When asked about the mayor’s comments, Brown spokesman Gil Duran said, ‘We always appreciate hearing from local government officials and I’m sure the governor will be happy to review some of these ideas.’

Villaraigosa’s appearance showed the lame-duck mayor is clearly considering his options, and his press team treated the Capitol trip as a major media event. Monday night, a Villaraigosa spokeswoman outlined the major themes of the speech to reporters. Early Tuesday, emailed copies of the address were sent out, complete with markings where the laugh lines were supposed to be. The speech itself was filled with sound bites and catch phrases, christening his tax plan ‘a grand California bargain’ and accusing California Republicans of embracing “tea party economics.”


Brown was at Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, joining Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval at an environmental summit.


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-- Anthony York in Sacramento