Governor's jobs plan dead for the year?
Posted: 09/12/2011 04:18:42 PM PDT
SACRAMENTO -- Democrats have given up hope of winning Republican support for Gov. Jerry Brown's $1 billion jobs plan, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg declared Monday.
Steinberg all but ruled out a special session to hammer out an agreement on Brown's jobs plan, which hinges on the repeal of a $1 billion tax break for out-of-state corporations, saying Senate Republicans showed no signs of cooperation. The money from the legislation, Senate Bill 116, would have covered new tax breaks to manufacturers and for low-income taxpayers, which Brown said would provide a needed boost to California's sagging economy.
Brown won the required two-thirds approval in the Assembly with the vote of two Republicans but failed to get a single Republican in the Senate Friday. He needed a pair of Republican votes because the bill would have changed tax law, which requires a two-thirds vote.
"The two-thirds vote is just not there when it comes to revenues," Steinberg said at a news conference.
"There's two ways to deal with that. One is we can keep banging our heads against a wall, or we can do our very best with the tools we have. And on significant two-thirds measures like how we are going to deal with revenue, you go the initiative route, you go to the ballot."
Another way, Steinberg said, was for Democrats to win an outright two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, which he said he'll begin to work on this fall.
"I gotta get into campaign mode here," he said. Democrats have an opportunity to pick up two-to-three seats in the 2012 elections, so I have a lot of political work to do."
Senate Republicans had hinted they were willing to go into a special session dealing with Brown's jobs plan but insisted a wide-ranging overhaul of regulatory and tax laws be included. Brown hasn't appeared eager to jump back into talks with what he sees as a bunch of implacable, ideological foes.
He left the door slightly ajar, however, before Friday night's defeat when asked if he would hold a special session on taxes if it didn't get through the Senate.
"I'd want to consult with my colleagues before having to make that kind of move," Brown said last week.
As for going the initiative route, a spokesman for Brown said no decision has been made, but the governor is looking at it closely as a viable alternative to taking another stab at rounding up a two-thirds vote in a special session this year, or when session resumes next year.
"Republicans just voted against jobs and lower taxes for businesses and working Californians and there's no indication they'd change their minds," said spokesman Gil Duran.
At his news conference last week, Brown said he worried about the big bucks out-of-state corporations such as cigarette maker Atria, formerly known as Philip Morris, would spend to defeat an initiative to eliminate the $1 billion corporate loophole.
Brown already has his hands full trying to cobble together a coalition of business and labor groups for another tax initiative he intends to put on the ballot in November 2012. He's trying to convince his labor allies to steer away from taxes that would target specific industries or the wealthy.
Going after out-of-state corporations "may be a popular issue, but it's also very unpopular issue with some powerful and well-financed companies," Brown said. "You can just imagine when you say eliminate a $1 billion tax loophole, somebody's going to pick up that billion, and that means they're spending money they're not spending now.
"So, they would have a high motivation if it's on the ballot to try to kill it," Brown said.
Brown touted the bipartisan agreement he reached in the Assembly but had made little effort to reach out to Senate Republicans since they rebuffed his attempt to place a tax extension on the ballot in June, GOP sources said.
It didn't help that Brown offered up his jobs plan with only two weeks remaining in the session, as legislators were dealing with hundreds of other bills flying through the legislative chambers, Republicans said.
The tension showed on the Senate floor as Republicans ridiculed Brown's late-hour attempt at a jobs plan.
Brown's plan was a "slap dash collection of ideas that looked like they were made for a press release, not serious policies about how to fix the state," said Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo.
But Republicans' frustrations with the governor was more deeply rooted, Blakeslee said, back to the failed spring negotiations on tax extensions.
"We said tax reform needs to be a part of this discussion," Blakeslee said. "And do you know what that governor said? He said tax reform is too complicated, and there isn't enough time. You know when that was? That was March. ... But here it is, 10 o'clock on the last night of session and evidently now it's not that complicated a subject and we've got plenty of time."
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, told Blakeslee "if you're angry about what the governor did or didn't do six or eight months ago, I'd suggest let's get over it."
But it's unlikely either side will any time soon.