The Roundup

Jan 12, 2011

Tax man

It's been little more than a week since newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown asked for bipartisan cooperation on new taxes and new cuts, and already the opposition is mounting -- especially on the taxes.

From Steve Harmon in the Contra Costa Times: "Brown met with all four caucuses -- Republicans and Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate -- Tuesday in his continuing effort to draw the politicians out of their ideological corners, as he has put it. But Republicans are adamant in their opposition to placing the question of a tax extension before the voters, let alone be seen as supporting it."


"Senate GOP Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said Monday the plan had "zero" support in his caucus."


California voters have approved new taxes only four times in 22 years, so going to the ballot for new levies isn't exactly a slam-dunk, notes the Ventura County Star's Timm Herdt.


"Three of the measures were approved on presidential election ballots, when the broadest representation of voters turns out."


"This is the history that is staring back at Gov. Jerry Brown as he seeks a special election in June to ask voters to extend temporary increases in taxes that nearly every Californian pays: sales taxes, income taxes and vehicle license fees."


"The odds are not on his side."


Brown hopes to make those odds better by wooing Capitol Republicans, but that appears to be an uphill task, reports the LA Times' Anthony York and Mike Mishak.


"The Democratic governor needs as few as four GOP votes to place a measure on the ballot that would extend $9 billion in recent tax hikes — levies Republicans have opposed."

"I will … go into the lion's den and see if I can convince them to live with a little less red meat than they're accustomed [to]," Brown said after unveiling his spending plan Monday."


Meanwhile, Brown's proposal to cut $1 billion from higher education is is prompting doom and gloom among educators, who fear that large numbers of students will be shut out of the system. The Times' Larry Gordon, Carla Rivera and Tony Barboza have the story.


"Administrators said it was too soon to say definitively how they would respond if the Legislature approves the $1.4 billion in proposed state funding cuts for the University of California, California State University and the state's community college system. But they predicted that daily life at the schools would surely suffer in various ways, including more-crowded classes and less pristine campuses."

"It's not so much the quality of instruction but the quality of the overall educational experience for these students" that may be affected, said Steve Boilard, higher education director at the state Legislative Analyst's Office."


In San Diego, where wild land fires are a fact of life, the locals are concerned about budget proposals that would cut into firefighting budgets. The Union-Tribune's Michael Gardner has the story.


"Most immediately, Brown proposes to rescind a 2003 policy of assigning four firefighters to every engine, scaling back to three."


"Longer-term, he has directed the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop recommendations to limit coverage and give counties and cities the responsibility and money to step in."


Lastly , we open our "SWAT Team" file to learn about a well-executed drug raid. The chopper was ready, the battering ram was used, the raiders swarmed over the property. And what did they find?


"The squad rushed in after a force helicopter picked up a ‘hotspot’ on Pam Hardcastle’s property, thinking it betrayed a lighting system used to grow the drug."


"But all they found was a heater for Simon and Kenny, the pets of Ms Hardcastle’s ten-year-old son, Jack."


‘When I opened it up and they saw the guinea pigs, they didn’t say anything,’ said the 42-year-old primary school worker."


"‘They were in the garage two seconds and they left.’"


But those guinea pigs were high...

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