Capitol Alert

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Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he has personally talked to Republican legislators who might support his plan to ask voters to approve some $11.2 billion in tax extensions.

Brown, however, would not specify which legislators he had talked to.

Brown made the statement after meeting with the business group the Bay Area Council at the Bank of America tower in San Francisco and winning its endorsement for his budget plan.

When asked whether he had met with Republicans who might support his plan, Brown answered, "I meet with them all the time, night and day."

About meetings with specific Republicans such as Sen. Bill Emmerson, of Hemet, or Sen. Anthony Cannella, of Ceres, Brown answered, "I'm not going to blow their cover."

He continued: "There was a story in the Bible, in the New Testament, there was a guy named Nicodemus, and he could only visit Jesus at night because he was kind of ashamed. He didn't even want anybody to know about it. Well, that's kind of where we are now with the Republicans and working with possible tax extensions. They can only come under the cover of darkness."

One reporter asked Brown: "Have you considered cutting the prisons more than you did in your initial budget proposal?"

Brown's response: "Well, we're going to cut a billion dollars out of prisons, but it's going to take probably 2 ½ to three years to get there. But we are looking at reducing the intake of individuals, the number of individuals that otherwise go to state prisons, are being handled at the local level, not only in jail but with alternative sanctions that I think can be very creative and very productive in reducing recidivism. And so I would say we are reducing the prisons, but you can't do it overnight."

Brown had some harsh words for conservative activist Grover Norquist, who has criticized Brown for asking voters to extend taxes. Norquist's group Americans for Tax Reform has warned Republican legislators who have signed its anti-tax pledge that putting the tax extensions on a ballot would be considered a violation of the pledge.

"For Norquist, this fellow who lives over there in Washington, to say the people of California have to do what he wants or he'll feel bad, and he did put this on his feelings, I think is pathetic itself and it's highly undemocratic," Brown said. "And ultimately, the people of California will repudiate the effort of very powerful outsiders trying to dictate to the people of this state."



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