Gov. Jerry Brown said this evening that a challenge in budget negotiations with Republican lawmakers is that they like to meet in groups but lack the expertise to discuss details fully.
"One of the challenges is they believe in kind of a zone defense, where they want five or six people in the room at the same time without the level of experts and staff that it takes to vet through some of the complex ideas that are being argued about," Brown told reporters before addressing about 700 labor representatives at downtown's Sheraton Grand Hotel.
The Democratic governor kept up his criticism of Republican lawmakers in his address, though it seemed for a minute that he might hold back.
"I want to be on a conciliatory path for as long as I can stay on a conciliatory path," he said.
Moments later Brown chastised Republicans for what he said is their failure to vote for either tax extensions or spending reductions, including his bid to eliminate redevelopment agencies.
"If you're not going to vote to extend taxes, you're not going to vote to cut, you're not going to vote to do anything to redevelopment, so, what the hell are you going to do?" he said. "By the way, if you're not going to do anything, why do you take a pay check?"
Brown, last governor from 1975 to 1983, was heavily supported by labor unions in the campaign, and he thanked them this evening for helping return him to office.
As he called for lawmakers to put on the ballot a measure to extend higher taxes on income, vehicles and sales, people in the audience chanted, "Let us vote!"
"They think they can say 'No,' you have no right to vote,'" Brown said. "And that's wrong. We the people do have the right. It's our state, and we will vote."
Brown told reporters later that he remains hopeful he can reach a budget deal. He said he was in talks "just a few hours ago."
Brown said he does not know if it is still possible to put a tax measure on the June 7 ballot. He said he would "like it as soon as possible."
Asked about a Plan B, Brown said, "I'm not prepared to even contemplate a Plan B tonight."