Brown Sees “Very Difficult Campaign” For Taxes

The governor says new cuts set the stage for voters to choose

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It wouldn't be a Jerry Brown news conference without a reference to Latin.  

Brown, a former seminarian, used a Latin phrase Tuesday at the Capitol that translates to, "No man gives what he does not have," to explain his thinking behind a new round of budget cuts.

Those cuts, totaling roughly a billion dollars, were "triggered" by a lack of tax revenues.  They affect a wide range of programs, including in-home health care and public universities. But California's public schools were spared widely-anticipate deep cuts.   Districts will lose $80 million in funding, along with $248 million for school bus services.

Districts had been bracing for cuts of over a billion dollars.

Brown said the cuts aren't pleasant, but are meant to impose fiscal discipline.

"We're not Greece.  We're not in a hole that we can't climb out of," Brown said.

Those cuts also set the stage for the governor's high-stakes effort to convince voters to raise taxes on next year's ballot.   It's a job made even more difficult by the likelihood of other competing tax measures that could also face voters..

Brown told reporters he's talking with proponents of those measures in an effort to clear the field, but "isn't there yet."

The cuts announced Tuesday are meant to keep the state's budget in balance between now and next November, when voters will be asked to decide the tax question.

"People can make a choice," Brown said.  "I think it's a difficult choice.  Having the trigger cuts at least shows what the alternatives are. And today we're showing what the first installment looks like."

Anti-tax groups and Republican lawmakers are spoiling for a fight over the issue.  Brown said he understands people don't want education cuts or more taxes, but said his job is about "managing discontent."

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