By JULIE JOHNSON
THE PRES DEMOCRAT
Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address Monday left North Coast lawmakers cautiously optimistic that the new governor would be able to garner just enough bipartisan support to launch his plan to address California’s $25 million budget deficit.
Brown said in his State of the State address that opponents had so far “failed to offer even one alternative solution” to the budget crisis, a call for lawmakers to get on board or propose something better, said State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.
“We have a governor that understands the problem and has a way forward, as imperfect as it may be,” Evans said. “The challenge is that all of us set aside our partisanship and do what’s best for California.”
Brown’s proposal was “designed to stabilize California and not send us into a tailspin,” said Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa.
“He’s devised a budget with cuts that doesn’t send us into a deeper recession,” Allen said.
Brown’s plan depends on voters approving a ballot measure that would extend for five years taxes on vehicles, sales and income, generating $9 billion in revenues in its first fiscal year. The revenue would be combined with $12.5 billion in spending cuts.
Brown needs five Republican votes, two in the Assembly and three in the Senate, to reach the two-thirds majority to put the tax measures on a special election ballot in March.
Brown said during his speech that it would be “unconscionable” for lawmakers to prevent Californians from voting on his plan.
North Coast lawmakers, all Democrats, offered hope that Brown set a tone of transparency that would help them get enough support from across the aisle.
Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, said he believed there would be enough support despite a “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” signed by 26 Assembly Republicans and all but two of the 14 Senate Republicans that states they will not support any new or extended taxes.
“I sat with several Republicans and they commented that they feel he’s being honest and respectful,” Chesbro said.
(video provided by office of Assemblyman Michael Allen)
(video provided by office of Assemblyman Wes Chesbro)