Capitol Alert

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Add the California Republican Party to the list of politicians taking their budget cases on the road.

Starting a yearlong set of visits with a stop tonight in Fresno, Republican lawmakers said today they will talk about proposals for regulatory, pension and other government changes while objecting to Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan.

"Sometimes we get, I think we get insular across the street in that building," Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway said. "And it's a great opportunity to get out and talk to what I call real people, real Californians."

She may cross paths with the Democratic governor or Democratic legislative leaders. Brown is making his first appearance on a statewide budget tour on Friday in Riverside, and Democratic leaders said today they plan to hold budget hearings outside Sacramento.

Brown and Democratic lawmakers are expected to frame the budget controversy as a choice between higher taxes or dramatic service cuts. Conway, Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, said that is a false choice.

"It's disingenuous to scare people," Conway said.

Conway said state government could save $2.5 billion by reducing operating and equipment budgets by 20 percent. Harkey pointed to California's high speed rail project as an example of unnecessary spending. She also objected to it being built through farmland.

"This is cultural genocide, and we can't tolerate that," she said.

After enduring major losses at the polls last year, Republicans will try on their tour to appeal to Democrats and independent voters, including stops in Los Angeles and other Democratic areas, Del Beccaro said.

"We need to hear what it's like out there," he said. "We're going to be doing mostly listening."

The party announced seven stops between today and July 21. It said more dates will be forthcoming.



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