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Darrell Steinberg 20120104_PK_LEGISLATURE 0662.JPGCalifornia's top Senate Democrat today shut the door on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal to make deep cuts to social services programs in the first few months of the year.

The January spending plan unveiled by Brown today includes nearly $1.4 billion in cuts to the state's welfare-to-work and subsidized child care programs. The Democratic governor called on lawmakers to approve those cuts in March to maximize savings.

But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, echoing comments made Wednesday, said he wants to hold off on further spending reductions in hopes that the state will see an uptick in revenues this spring.

"Why would we make cuts that are going to harm people and harm the economy in March when in fact in May there's a real not just possibility, but if the trend continues, a probability that the deficit number is going to be less," the Sacramento Democrat told reporters, pointing to improvement in a revenue forecast made in December.

Brown's plan relies on a mix of roughly $4.2 billion in cuts and the passage of a $6.9 million tax measure he is seeking to qualify for the November ballot in order to close what he estimated to be a $9.2 billion budget deficit through June 2013. He proposed deeper cuts to K-12 and higher education if that measure fails.

Steinberg emphasized that the plan Brown unveiled today is just the first draft of a 2012-2013 spending plan.

"It's a January budget, and a ... June 15 budget, by definition, historically looks nothing like a January budget," he said.

Steinberg characterized Brown's call for additional cuts if voters fail to approve his tax measure in November as a "sound" approach but signaled that the Legislature might look at other areas for those spending reductions.

"You have to say that if the revenue measure doesn't pass, here will be the consequences. I think we will want to debate, discuss and analyze what those trigger cuts should be on the other side, but I have no quarrel with the way the governor approaches the notion of November 2012 triggers," he said.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said in a statement that the plan "reflects the fact that even though California's economic recovery is gaining strength, we still face a year of difficult choices."

"His plan underscores the need for new revenues to avoid cuts that will be a major drag on the recovery, and I am looking forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues to produce an on-time budget that reflects California's values by our June 15th deadline," the Los Angeles Democrat said.

John Vigna, spokesman for Pérez, called it "a little premature to say what we're going to do one way or the other" when it comes to the cuts Brown is proposing. Vigna said the speaker wants to discuss the plan with members of the caucus before taking a stance.

"The whole caucus has to go up on this, and he wouldn't want to make a move without consulting with members and getting their thoughts and feedback," Vigna said.

RELATED POSTS:
Jerry Brown budget cuts $1 billion from California welfare
Read Jerry Brown's California budget plan

PHOTO CREDIT: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, gives opening remarks as the California Legislature returns for the 2012 session in Sacramento on Jan. 4, 2012. Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee



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