California Assembly Democrats renew effort to pass tax extensions with option for voters to decide

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Julie Small/KPCC

California state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) giving an update on the sate budget. ASM Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield is on the right.

In Sacramento on Tuesday, Democratic leaders say they’ll keep pushing to extend some temporary taxes that could help plug the state’s $26 billion deficit. Last month Republicans defeated an effort to put the plan on June’s statewide ballot for voters to decide. The speaker of the California Assembly maintains there’s still a way to extend the taxes and give voters the final say.

Democrats needed Republican votes to place a set of tax extensions on a June special election ballot. Assembly Speaker John Perez says the idea was to tally Californians’ ”yea” or “nay” votes before the end of the fiscal year.

“What’s happened is the Republicans ran out the clock on that option,” says Perez.

Republicans negotiated for pension and regulatory reforms and refused to support the tax extensions without those changes. But given the option of an all-cuts budget that would gut funding for education and public safety, Perez predicts that some members of the minority party will go for the taxes.

“There are a few Republican members of both houses that understand that their obligation to the people of California is greater than anything else,” says Perez. “And I believe that there’s a way for us to work between now and June 15 to negotiate out a solution.”

June 15 is the deadline to pass a budget. Perez says a budget bill passed in June could still honor the governor’s promise to let voters decide whether they’ll pay for state government by taxing themselves more. The budget would include a provision to only enact the tax extensions if Californians vote to approve them.

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