Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Emmerson says budget talks collapse

Republican State Sen. Bill Emmerson (R 37) said with discouragement that budget negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown have ended. Emmerson does not see any further discussion between the parties at this time.

According to Emmerson, he and his colleagues negotiated over 50 issues and found agreement on all but two or three. Pension and regulatory reform were areas in which the politicians found common ground. But the spending cap proposal proved too high a hurdle to mutually clear.

“I think the discussion we’ve had came to an end. The Governor was not able to get to a plan on a spending cap proposal or agree on a single sales tax,” Emmerson said. “We had a pathway to improving California’s budget problems. I’m extremely disappointed.”

Emmerson is not sure what Brown will do next — majority vote budget, a fall initiative or another alternative. He was genuinely positive about Brown’s willingness to negotiate.

“I think the governor was extremely honorable. There was no contention,” Emmerson said. “He’s a stand-up guy.” Emmerson said he believed the governor was, in the end, unable to convince his stakeholders.

Brown faulted the larger Republican caucus which, in Brown’s words in a March 25 letter to Republican leader Bob Dutton, “added almost two dozen new topics [to those originally under negotiation] including obscure aspects of labor law and shifting the Presidential primary to March. In addition, your list of demands — if met — would undermine my entire budget proposal by undoing major elements and extending the taxes for only 18 months [rather than the five years the governor had proposed].”

Emmerson himself may get involved in possible initiatives for pension reform and spending caps.

At this point, Governor Brown said he would focus his efforts “on speaking directly to Californians and coming up with honest and real solutions to our budget crisis.”

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