Sen. Tom Harman, one of five Republicans who negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown, said Monday that budget talks broke down this weekend over fundamental disagreements on a permanent spending cap and pension changes.
The Huntington Beach Republican said the group has no more talks scheduled with the Democratic governor. He believes talks will shift either to a "Big 5" discussion between Brown and the four legislative leaders or that Democrats will pursue a majority-vote budget solution.
Harman said the five Republicans wanted ballot measures that would impose a permanent hard cap on future state spending and reduce pension benefits for current state workers. Those issues were non-starters for Democrats.
Asked what it would take to resume talks, Harman said, "It would certainly require some movement on behalf of the governor and his administration. We have made a number of proposals to him, and I can tell you almost all of them were rejected. I'm not taking potshots at the governor, I'm not being disrespectful, but for one reason or another, he and his staff decided no, he could not do that."
Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg dispute that budget talks have halted and say they are committed to getting a bipartisan vote this week. But Steinberg raised the possibility for the first time that lawmakers would have to delay the election by one week to June 14.
"It has not blown up," Steinberg said. "The conversations are still ongoing. The key is, this is the week, and relatively early in the week, we get to the floor."
Harman said that none of the five Republicans had committed to put Brown's five-year tax extensions on the ballot even if they got the changes they wanted. The senator said none were prepared to vote for five years' worth of tax extensions on vehicles, sales and income.
"Brown's proposal to extend the taxes for five years - way too long," Harman said. "That was a non-starter for me, a non-starter for everyone. We can't do five years. I suggested, well, if there's going to be an extension, it shouldn't be any more than 18 months. We'll know in 18 months if we're coming out of this recession, if there's going to be an upturn."
Harman also said that Republicans sought changes to the state regulatory process and environmental regulations. One change would have required that new regulations under review by the Office of Administrative Law include analyses of economic impacts. Another change would have prevented parties from submitting hundreds of pages of documents late in the environmental review process, which Harman said was a way for opponents to delay or kill construction projects.