California Governor Jerry Brown delivered a big blow to the Democrats, Thursday, by vetoing a budget plan approved by the Legislature which did not include his proposed tax extensions.
Brown had sought to extend a series of tax increases set to expire in June 30 but the plan, which was seen as appeasing the Republicans, did not include it. The budget plan included imposing a $12 fee on vehicle registrations, a firefighting surcharge on rural residents, and an extension of a hike in the sales tax. The plan would have also cut more deeply into higher education, the courts and local law enforcement and reduced the state's fiscal deficit by around $10 billion.
However, Brown said he will not sign Senate Bill 69 or Assembly Bill 98, which together make up the state budget, as it doesn't go far enough to address the state's $26 billion fiscal deficit problems.
Not surprisingly, Brown vetoed the plan, expressing his concerns. I am vetoing today because I don't want to see more billions in borrowing, legal maneuvers that are questionable and a budget that will not stand the test of time, Brown said in an online video message after announcing the veto on his Twitter account.
We can - and must - do better, Brown said. A balanced budget is critical to our economic recovery.”
In a press release, the governor also said that the budget plan he received was not a balanced solution.
It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur, the release said.
Brown also warned of dire consequences if the Republicans continue to stand in the way of a special election to approve the tax extensions.
If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety — a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility, the governor warned.
In the next several days, I'm going to do everything I can, I'll move heaven and earth, to get those votes, Brown said. I'm certainly going to give them the chance to become heroes rather than people who become complicit in the destruction of our universities and our schools.
Brown wants a law to be passed that would extend expiring sales and vehicle tax hikes for several months and authorize a special election this fall in which voters would be asked to extend those increases and an already expired increase in the personal income tax rate for up to five years.
Though the Democrats have majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate, yet for any law to be passed, at least two Republican votes in each house are needed to pass tax increases or place measures on a ballot.
GOP lawmakers said they should not be blamed for the current debacle.
Sen. Anthony Cannella, of Ceres; Sen. Tom Harman, of Huntington Beach; Sen. Bill Emmerson, of Hemet; and Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, of Modesto, who were involved in budget talks with Brown, praised the governor for vetoing what they call a sham budget plan but they deny having blocked Brown's special election.
It's the Democrats who are holding California hostage by refusing to allow the voters to weigh in on meaningful structural reforms — not just Gov. Brown's tax proposal, they said in a joint statement. We have been consistent and clear from day one: let the people vote on the reforms that would end our state's chronic budget deficits and put Californians back to work. Let them have a say in the future of California. Let's get this done.
The lawmakers said they want reforms to public employee pensions, a spending cap and regulatory changes to help California businesses.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are upset as they feel the governor has jeopardized their plan and the incident, they feel, will make people wonder whether there is a very serious lack of communication between the governor and members of his party.
I think the whole state should be asking, 'governor, you couldn't get Republican votes for your Plan A. The majority party in the Legislature did their work to come up with a Plan B. You've now rejected it. What is your proposal?' Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said.
While Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg feels Brown is taking a stern stand as he wants to force a confrontation with the Republicans, Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) claims it is unlikely that the Democrats would come together to create a new plan that would include deeper cuts than those already proposed.
Perez said the legislature has already made more than $12 billion in cuts, with the axe falling on programs protecting the elderly, the poor and the disabled, as well as schools, universities and public safety groups. It's unlikely, he said, that Brown will find a majority vote on a bill that has been designed to go further than we did.
See the video below: