Reporting from San Francisco and Sacramento -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday he was increasingly skeptical that a tax deal could be struck before the July 1 beginning of the new fiscal year, as Democrats and Republicans heatedly blamed each other for the impasse.
Brown, who issued a historic veto of Democrats’ budget plan a week ago, told a gathering of about 250 apartment owners and developers in San Francisco that he continues to seek GOP support for his budget plan, which includes a tax referendum in the fall.
“I’m not giving up,” Brown said, even if he has grown less sanguine about the prospect of a legislative accord.
Although state Controller John Chiang this week invoked a new law to halt lawmakers’ pay until there’s a budget in place, the renewed commotion in the Capitol has produced little progress.
A critical sticking point is that Brown wants to extend sales and vehicle taxes — which Republicans oppose — until an election can be held. He needs the support of at least four GOP lawmakers for both moves. If he fails, the governor said, he will help gather signatures to place taxes on the ballot next year.
“It will take the use of the initiative, in all probability,” he said, to restore California’s financial health.
With talks slipping and time running out, Republicans held an unusual news conference outside the doors of the governor’s Capitol office to blame Brown and his labor supporters for the lack of progress.
“The public unions and the governor have become the problem in this, not the Republicans,” said Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar).
The GOP lawmakers said Brown had failed to deliver sufficiently on the pension and spending policy concessions they have demanded in exchange for supporting an election.
“The reason that there is no budget deal is that the governor and the Democratic majority in the Legislature and their allies refuse to allow the voters the opportunity to reform pensions and control state overspending,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga).
Brown retorted that Republicans have adopted “a rejectionist posture.”
The governor said Thursday he was willing to let the stalemate drag on for “the next few weeks.” If no deal is reached, he said, he will call for a budget with deeper spending cuts to make up for the lack of taxes.
Democrats indicated that they have already begun crafting another spending plan without Republican support — one they hope the governor won’t veto. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) acknowledged Thursday that such a plan would “have to include more cuts.”
Tensions in the Capitol have risen as lawmakers have contemplated a prolonged standoff without pay. The rank-and-file lose about $400 for each day past the June 15 budget deadline without a balanced spending plan.
Not everyone was complaining, though.
“I think the Legislature is getting paid exactly what it’s worth right now,” said Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo).