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Transition of Power: Brown Hosts Budget Forum, Shares Grim Fiscal News

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brown was pretty clear about his expectations from the start:

"Today we're not going to argue about solutions or to do anything but to try to get on the same page."

To do that, he lined up statewide officials, finance experts and legislative leaders for some sobering statistics.  The state's non-partisan legislative analyst says California's deficit could grow from 25 billion to 28 billion over the next year-and-a-half, due to federal changes in the estate tax.  And State Controller John Chiang says the state could face a multibillion dollar cash shortage as early as the summer:

"If we don't have sufficient cash solutions, we run the risk again - of the consequences and I don't want to say it, but IOU's and delays of tax refunds and other things that hurt real people."

Despite Brown's goal of avoiding talk about solutions, the Q and A turned into a familiar debate about taxes and business regulations.  This question from Democratic Assemblymember Bill Monning generated scattered applause:

"Any ideas on where there might be future revenues from any source?"

Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway showed her frustration with the turn things had taken:

"Thank you governor.  I'm so glad we're not talking about solutions and raising taxes because I know that's not what we're here for."

Conway and the two Democratic leaders took the stage with Brown and made comments, but Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton was conspicuously absent.  He stayed in the audience, saying he came to listen, not talk.  Governor-elect Brown dodged most of the questions, which covered issues ranging from immigration to taxes to education.  He urged cooperation:

"Beneath the differences there is a zone of potential common agreement and that's where I'm going to focus in the coming months."

One thing most everyone did agree on:  Lawmakers need to act quickly. Brown will roll out his budget proposal in about a month. 
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