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California Declares Fiscal Emergency

January 23, 2011
California Declares Fiscal Emergency

 

Jerry Brown, California’s governor, declared a state of fiscal emergency on Thursday for the government of the most populous US state to press lawmakers to tackle its $25.4 billion budget gap.

 

Democrat Brown’s declaration follows a similar one made last month by his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor.

Democrats who control the legislature declined to act on Schwarzenegger’s declaration, saying they would instead wait to work on budget matters with Brown, who served two terms as California’s governor in the 1970s and 1980s.

Brown was sworn in to his third term early this month and has presented lawmakers with a plan to balance the state’s books with $12.5 billion in spending cuts and revenue from tax extensions that voters must first approve.

Brown has said he wants lawmakers to act on his plan by March.

His fiscal emergency declaration is meant to underscore that target, an official said.

Brown’s declaration, which is largely procedural, says it affirms Schwarzenegger’s December declaration, giving lawmakers 45 days to address the state’s fiscal troubles.

The 72-year-old governor also wants the legislature to back a ballot measure for a special election in June that would ask voters to extend tax increases expiring this year to help fill the state budget’s shortfall.

Brown needs a handful of Republican votes to put the measure to voters.

Republican leaders in the legislature have said they doubt those votes will come.

By contrast, Darrell Steinberg, the state senate president pro tem, told Reuters on Thursday he is backing Brown’s budget plan and that he would press other lawmakers to do so as well: “I think the Brown framework is the right framework …We intend to meet the March deadline.”

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