In detailing his budget plan this morning, Gov. Jerry Brown said he is shooting for a two-thirds vote to put a proposal to extend higher tax rates set to expire on the ballot in a June statewide election.
That feat would require the votes of at least a handful of Republican lawmakers in each house, a scenario GOP legislative leaders shot down as unlikely at best shortly after the official unveiling of Brown's plan.
Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton predicted that "zero" members of his caucus would cast an aye vote under the current proposal outlined by Brown today.
"I am not open to the idea because nobody has demonstrated anything to me that shows we are going to do anything different than we have done before," the Rancho Cucamonga Republican said. "Voters were given this choice back in 2009 and they rejected it and frankly they were right to reject it. We didn't fix anything, so why would the voters believe you now that you're going to fix the problem even if they would give you five more years of the same thing?"
He called Brown's proposed spending reductions a start, giving the governor kudos for cutting his own budget, but said it was "too little, too late." Dutton and Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, called for steeper spending cuts, changing the regulatory structure, and changing how the Legislature conducts business with steps like limiting bills with new programs that add costs.
"Nobody wants to be with a hatchet in hand, going off and cutting programs, and yet we absolutely have to do that," Huff said.
Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway, of Tulare, painted a similar picture of the party's lower house caucus. She issued a statement saying Assembly Republicans "stand united" against the plan to "place the same tax increases that voters overwhelmingly rejected less than two years ago back on the ballot."
"At this point, I think California voters have got to be feeling like the parent who consistently tells the child 'No.' How many times do we have to say no to taxes? I think they speak loud and clear," Conway told reporters today. "Jobs are leaving the state, people don't have a job. Why aren't we looking at more jobs and more people working as a way to increase our revenue?"
Whether Brown will ultimately get, or need, a two-thirds vote is still unclear. The Democratic governor said this morning that Republicans aren't "locked in stone in opposition" and that he is committed to working with them on his plan.
"I'm trying to forge a consensus," he said "A wide agreement."
Bee colleague Jim Sanders contributed to this report.
Photo above: Senate GOP leader Bob Dutto