California budget: Have Republicans outfoxed Jerry Brown?
Republican lawmakers refuse to give in to Gov. Jerry Brown and his plan to fix the California budget through a special election on tax extensions. That leaves Brown with few palatable options.
With time quickly running out and public opinion turning against him, Gov. Jerry Brown appears to have few options to save his California budget plan, none of them good.Skip to next paragraph
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Facing him are Republican legislators who don’t want to allow a key element of his plan – $12 billion in tax extensions – go before a public vote. At stake is the $26.4 billion budget gap, which Governor Brown helped trim Thursday by approving $11.2 billion in cuts, including hikes in community-college fees and slashed welfare grants.
Brown insists that he can still sway four Republicans – two in the Assembly and two in the Senate – to back his tax-extension plan, giving it the votes needed to put it on the ballot this summer. But as the stalemate in Sacramento continues, and with polls showing Californians' support for the extensions slipping, some political scientists are asking whether Brown has been outflanked by a younger generation of politicians playing by different rules.
“What he fails to understand is that in today's highly polarized political arena, ideologically extreme position-takers consistently beat old-school partisan compromisers," says Lara Brown, a political scientist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency.”
This generation of politicians understands that Democrats "are better off fighting and standing their ground – showing the liberal Democratic base in California that they are principled, than they are in giving into the demands from what is – and has been for some time – the minority party in the state,” says Professor Brown.
The Republicans, meanwhile, "would also rather fight it out, because it allows them to cast the Democrats as extremist incumbents who are letting the state slip into insolvency, which then helps them in their attempt to recruit moderates and Independents," she adds. "Governor Brown, who came into politics in a different era, has yet to realize that he, like [former gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger, will likely be the one to sustain the mortal wounds in this partisan duel.”
With every passing day, Brown's task becomes more urgent. He wants to hold the special election before June 30, when the current tax rates expire. But the state needs 131 days to prepare for a special election (though it has held one in the past on 88 days advance notice).
Potential Plan Bs
News reports suggest that Brown is looking at two options to bypass Republicans.