Brown to sell budget plan in California state address

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Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters as he announces his proposed budget at the California State Capitol on Jan. 10, 2011 in Sacramento.

Governor Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State address this evening at 5 o’clock.

He’ll try to sell Californians on his plan to plug a $25 billion budget deficit. Brown wants to offer Californians a sober appraisal of the state’s fiscal crisis, a plan to bring them into balance and reasons to be hopeful.

"We’re 25 billion in the red and that’s about 29 percent of the budget. That’s really big." Brown says he wants to make it clear to lawmakers and voters: unless they plug that hole with budget cuts and higher taxes, the deficits will continue for years – and the state’s ability to provide quality education, health care and public safety will deteriorate.

On the flip side, Brown says he’ll offer reasons why California will recover and create better schools, safer streets and more jobs.

Brown’s plan to solve that deficit, and future deficits, relies equally on cuts and taxes. He’s asked the legislature to enact $12 billion in cuts – and to put a $12 billion dollar tax proposal before voters in a special election.

Brown ties the extension of temporary taxes to a proposal to shift some programs from the state to local government. He’d also eliminate local redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones that divert property taxes from schools and fire districts.

Brown says plenty of people have been pushing back since he unveiled the proposal earlier this month. "Each group in California that benefits from state money will come to Sacramento, and will complain, and will make their case and there'll probably be some modification, but at the end of the day we have to find 25 billion. That’s just the way it is."

Brown says Republicans and Democrats in the legislature appear open to his budget plan. And a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found a majority of California voters favor a tax increase to prevent deeper cuts to state programs.

A few days before his scheduled address, Governor Brown said he hadn’t written a word of his speech. But he had a few topics in mind.

"There’s a lot of issues," said Brown, "whether it’s reform of schools, whether it’s water, whether it’s crime – those are the things I’m really interested in, but at the same time if we don’t get this budget fixed, California will flounder."

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