SACRAMENTO, Calif. (A.P.) — Gov. Jerry Brown said that he thinks he can find a “zone of agreement” on the gridlocked state budget that will be good for both conservative-leaning business leaders and Democrats who want to spend more on California’s schools and social programs, despite the natural tension between the two sides.
The Governor was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.
Brown told about 1,200 business leaders from around California that he is pushing back against fellow Democrats who want to spend freely without considering the state’s financial woes. But he also urged conservative-leaning business leaders to consider those who rely on state-funded social welfare programs.
“I have to tell my Democratic friends that yes, business has to create the wealth. We have to get real here, that every ill can’t be matched with a trial attorney seeking benefits and fees. … And on the other hand, we have to tell business that we’re all in it together, and we’re all Californians,” Brown told a crowd at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Host Breakfast in Sacramento.
Brown is pushing his proposal for a special election on extending temporary increases in the state’s sales, income and vehicle taxes. He needs two Republican votes in each house of the state Legislature, and so far has been unable to persuade enough GOP members.
The governor has signed into law about $11.2 billion in cuts and fund transfers approved by the Legislature, but the state still faces a $9.6 billion budget shortfall through June 2012.
“There is a zone of potential agreement, and that’s what I’m looking for,” Brown said. “And I have to tell you, pushing back the Republicans is just about as difficult as pushing back the Democrats. I’m glad that I’ve come here in my declining years to give it the college try.”
One way Brown indicated he will push back on Democrats is by vetoing the proposed spending they are adding back into the budget after the state legislative analyst’s office announced that the state’s revenues are about $2.5 billion higher than projected since the fiscal year started last July 1.
“We may have to correct that with the blue pencil further down the road,” he said.
Brown has sought and won some support for his budget proposal from Republican-leaning business groups. The Chamber of Commerce has voiced cautious optimism about his plan, without endorsing his proposal to extend the tax increases for another five years.
The chamber’s board chairman, Shariq Yosufzai, said in his address to the group that the business community is ready to “do our part.”
“Gov. Brown’s reputation as a leader willing to make the tough cuts gives us all hope that he will impose new discipline on the current system,” said Yosufzai, vice president of Chevron Corporation.
“For far too long, policymakers have ignored the economic competition that has lured businesses to other states and other countries,” he said.
The governor joked that he was surprised by the supportive comments from Yosufzai.
“I’m a little unused to this ‘We’re getting behind Gov. Brown,'” he joked. “I don’t quite believe it yet.”
Brown had hoped to have a June vote on his proposal to extend the taxes but was unable to win enough GOP votes for it. He’s now hoping the Legislature will extend the taxes until a special election can be held in the fall, possibly in September, but some Democrats and union groups want the Legislature to approve the taxes outright until at least next year.
“I don’t see any Republican votes for a straight tax increase, and it’s what I promised, so I’m going to stick to my pledge,” he told reporters after Thursday’s address.
The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.
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