SACRAMENTO -- Democrats angrily rejected a long list of demands -- 53 issues in all -- that Republicans made Friday in budget negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown, and are now amping up threats to go around the minority party to ensure a special election on tax extensions.

Senate Republicans turned in their proposal to Brown on Friday afternoon after he complained he had yet to see a "term sheet" outlining their wishes. With time running out to get a special election on the ballot, Brown has pleaded with Republicans to lower their asking price for an agreement to allow voters to decide whether the $26.6 billion deficit should be closed with a mix of spending cuts and taxes.

But after getting a quick look at the GOP demands in a meeting with the governor, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said he is convinced the two parties are farther apart than they've ever been.

"I am dubious of our ability to reach resolution with Republicans right now," Perez said. "Even a cursory review made clear they were expanding what they were trying to leverage. This takes us clearly to a point where we'll have to decide to pursue solutions that don't require Republican votes."

Republican Senate Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and the GOP's ranking budget member, Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, released the list, the first clear view of the agenda they've been developing over the last two months -- and illustrating why the gulf between the two parties is so wide.

It included pension and regulatory rollbacks, a spending cap, demands for more spending cuts, and curbs on teachers' union powers and attorney fees. The pension changes are far-reaching, delving into the share of employee contributions to requiring voter approval for future pension increases. They also want the spending cap and pension rollbacks placed on the ballot alongside the tax extensions.

Brown was dismayed by the lengthy list of demands, said spokesman Gil Duran, asking Dutton and Huff in a written response to be "reasonable and focus on what is possible, on issues we've been talking about, rather than expanding and moving the process backward," Duran said. "It's not time for diversions."

Dutton and Huff, in their response to Brown, said they had stepped up to Brown's challenge to become engaged in the budget process.

First, they wrote, "Republicans were accused of being the party of 'no.' And now Republicans are accused of being the party of 'too much yes.' "

Brown is already facing an increasingly impatient group of Democratic legislators, who are privately urging their leaders to drop talks with Republicans.

If they did, they'd have to get a special election on the ballot through a majority vote of both houses of the Legislature, which will likely be legally challenged, or through a fall initiative campaign. The latter move could delay the budget, hurt the state's credit, create a statewide stoppage of infrastructure projects and force the state to take drastic action such as issuing IOUs to keep the government afloat.

Brown wants voters to continue for another five years the 2009 tax increases on purchases, income and vehicles, which would bring in revenues of about $12 billion a year. The alternative, he has said, will be more devastating cuts to schools, public safety and social services.

Brown had been in talks for the last several weeks with five Senate Republicans, the so-called GOP 5. But Friday, Dutton and Huff took over the talks, meeting for more than an hour with Brown.

"We're trying to put together a package that we all know where everybody stands," Dutton said afterward.
Dutton was reviewing Brown's response, said Jann Taber, Dutton's spokeswoman.

Even before the GOP leaders turned in their proposal, Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, had warned he was "ready to pull the plug" on talks and pursue an alternative plan.

"If the vote isn't there, we're going to consider the other pathways," he said. "It is high time this comes to a vote."

He said he will defer to the governor and see if he can strike a bargain over the next couple days, but that his patience is wearing out.

"Whether it is fear or an inability to negotiate in a way that narrows differences as opposed to expanding them, this is ridiculous," he said.

No vote is likely this weekend because Steinberg is hosting a Democratic Party golfing fundraiser in La Jolla, which Republicans criticized.

"It's all too clear where Steinberg's priorities are," said Mark Standriff, Republican party spokesman.

"Collecting union cash at a luxury golf course. If the Democrats were truly trying to come to a solution, they'd be negotiating, not golfing."

Brown, meanwhile, remained at the Capitol, continuing his campaign to win over Republicans. He has focused largely on peeling off two Senate Republican votes, but he also needs two in the Assembly. The object of his attentions Friday was Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Modesto, who met for nearly an hour with Brown but would not discuss the meeting afterward.

"The governor's always delightful," Berryhill said. "He's always productive."