Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Torey Van Oot and David Siders contributed to this report.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced this afternoon he halted negotiations with legislative Republicans over a deal to place taxes on the ballot to help resolve California's remaining $15.4 billion deficit.

A June election appears to be off the table entirely. Brown is no longer pursuing a two-thirds vote for a June tax election, while Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told reporters he will not pursue a majority-vote option, either.

"Yesterday, I stopped the discussions that I had been conducting with various members of the Republican party regarding our state's massive deficit," Brown said in a statement this afternoon. "The budget plan that I put forth is balanced between deep cuts and extensions of currently existing taxes and I believe it is in the best interest of California. Under our constitution, however, two Republicans from the Assembly and two from the Senate must agree before this matter can be put to the people."

"Each and every Republican legislator I've spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever changing list of collateral demands," the Democratic governor added.

Senate Republicans on Friday released a list of major policy changes they wanted as a condition of voting for Brown's budget proposals. The move was widely seen as disruptive to talks, but the governor had reached out to three Senate Republicans this weekend in hopes of salvaging a deal before deciding to call off talks.

One of the three, Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, blamed trial lawyers, unions and "other stakeholders" for being unwilling to negotiate on pension cuts, a long-term cap on spending and regulatory changes.

"As a result of these groups' refusal to challenge the status quo, it has become clear the governor and legislative Democrats are not in a position to work with us to pass the measures necessary to move California forward," Cannella said in a statement. "Thus, I do not foresee a path to compromise."

Brown did not specify what he would do next.

"Much is at stake, and in the coming weeks I will focus my efforts on speaking directly to Californians and coming up with honest and real solutions to our budget crisis," he said.

Brown is considering alternative ways to put tax extensions on the ballot, possibly by gathering signatures for a November ballot initiative. He suggested in his release that he may be skeptical of the majority-vote approach, saying the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority.

The governor does not need to call an election to approve higher taxes; he can do so with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. But he promised voters last year he would seek their opinion before seeking more taxes.

The absence of a June election casts doubt on whether state leaders can resolve the budget before the next fiscal year starts in July. Democrats did not indicate how they would attempt to do so.

"They've done a pretty good job of running out the clock here," Steinberg said, referring to legislative Republicans.



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