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April 1, 2011 > Brown halts budget talks with GOP lawmakers

Brown halts budget talks with GOP lawmakers

By Juliet Williams, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), Mar 29 - Gov. Jerry Brown ended budget negotiations Tuesday with Republican lawmakers, casting doubt over what steps he and the Legislature will take to close the rest of California's deficit.

Brown issued a statement saying he had halted talks days after GOP leaders released a list of 53 demands they said had to be met in exchange for their support for a special election.

The Democratic governor and majority Democrats wanted to ask California voters in June to extend temporary tax increases enacted two years ago as part of their solution to close the deficit.

Brown said he supports some of the reforms sought by Republican lawmakers, including a state spending cap, changes to the pension system for public employees and streamlining business regulations.

But he said after progress was made on those issues, the Republicans issued a much longer wish list that included items not related to the state budget debate and corporate tax breaks that would cost the state billions of dollars a year. The governor concluded that further talks would be fruitless.

"Each and every Republican legislator I've spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever-changing list of collateral demands," Brown said in his statement.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, one of five Republicans who had been talking with Brown in recent weeks, responded by saying he also does not see a path to compromise.

Cannella, R-Ceres, blamed public employee unions, trial attorneys and other Democratic Party supporters for their ``refusal to challenge the status quo'' on GOP priorities that include pension reforms, a hard cap on state spending and measures to promote job creation

In ending the talks, Brown said he will focus his efforts in the coming weeks on "speaking directly to Californians and coming up with honest and real solutions to our budget crisis." His office did not immediately return a telephone call or emails seeking more information.

Two Republican votes in each house of the Legislature are needed to place a ballot measure before voters. Brown had been negotiating with five Republican state senators during the past few weeks, but the talks deteriorated over the weekend after the Senate GOP leadership offered its list of demands.

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