California Governor Jerry Brown used his term’s first State of the State address to urge Republican lawmakers to allow a special election that would put in the hands of the people the decision of whether to extend $12 billion in temporary income, sales, and vehicle taxes — which were part of a 2009 budget deal — for another four years. In order to put such a tax measure on the ballot, however, Brown needs to secure a two-thirds majority of the state legislature by late March. So far, he has not been able to secure the five Republican votes needed to pass his plan, which he promises will help bridge California’s $25-million budget gap.
State Assemblymember Das Williams praised Brown’s proposal, saying it offered a way to move forward without destroying the state’s public education system. “The plan he has is the right plan,” Williams said. “He invoked a vision of something that I think is important to all of us, which is the California dream, the kind of opportunity we have as a state,” he went on. “The only way to protect [public education] is to move forward with this plan. That does take some pain, that does take some cuts, and extending the revenue sources that we have right now.”
State Senator Tony Strickland was more critical of Brown’s idea, saying Californians simply can’t afford another tax. “The voters have already spoken on tax increases — they voted down Proposition 1A in 2009,” said Strickland. “We need to make better use of our precious dollars that do come to Sacramento and stop treating the people like a personal ATM machine by reaching into their pockets every time the state runs out of cash,” he summed up. “The only way to truly get out of this budget mess is to change the policies that drive jobs out of the state. The legislature should focus on what we will do to put people back to work.”