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Gov. Jerry Brown said in unveiling his revised budget proposal today that any election to ask voters to ratify higher tax rates should be held "as soon as possible."

But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, told reporters any election on taxes and other budget-related proposals "ought to be as far off as is reasonably possible."

How soon is soon enough to be one of the many issues up for debate now that Brown's updated plan has been released.

Brown said at a morning press conference that he sees the fall as a logical time to ask voters to approve continuing higher sales and vehicle tax rates.

Steinberg, who noted that Brown did not name a target election date in his proposal, said a buffer on the tax vote would give schools and other public services more funding stability in the coming fiscal year.

"2012 to me in the normal election cycle would be an appropriate time to have an election if an election is necessary," the Sacramento Democrat said.

But before an election date is set, Brown and Democrats will still need to secure the two GOP votes in each house to extend the taxes and call an election. GOP Republican Sen. Bob Huff, vice chair of the Senate Budget Committee, called the governor's proposal "short on reforms," saying his colleagues will still need to see serious proposals on a spending cap and other GOP-backed structural changes in order to support the plan.

"Republicans are going to be reluctant to (vote) on something business as usual," the Diamond Bar Republican said. "Unless you fix the underlying problem that takes into account Sacramento, the Legislature's appetite to spend more than we take in, unless we fix that underlying problem, I do not see that there's going to be Republican votes for this."

Steinberg, who praised Brown's proposal as a balanced approach focused on a long-term solution, was optimistic his house would hold a floor vote on the budget "well before" the June 15 legislative deadline for approving a budget.

"We're on a very fast track, we don't have to start from scratch, a lot of the work in terms of analysis and also negotiation has been done... and we intend to finish," he said.


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