SACRAMENTO, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown says he'd like to augment deficit-closing budget cuts with a voter-approved extension of taxes currently in place.
The Democratic leader, in a rare appearance before a legislative committee Thursday, said he wants the special tax referendum in June as a way to "check in" with Californians to see whether voters want to close the state's $26.6 billion deficit with a combination of taxes and spending cuts or an all-cuts option, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
Brown has proposed a budget that contains $12 billion in cuts, gubernatorial press secretary Gil Duran said Friday
"Others have raised the idea of taxes (on cigarettes for instance) but the governor has said he does not want to crowd the ballot with anything that would distract from a simple and balanced solution for the budget," Duran said in an e-mail.
Brown laid into Republicans for signing a pledge to block a ballot measure to increase taxes unless voters also are given the option to vote to decrease taxes.
"When you folks say, 'No. No vote. No plan. No,' that's not American. It's not acceptable, and it's not loyalty to California," Brown said. "Time is running out for California and this country if politicians just keep squabbling all the time."
Brown joked with committee Republicans who signed the pledge, noting his own experience when, as a Jesuit seminarian, he took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, only to later be granted dispensation.
Brown said Republicans wanting dispensation from the anti-tax pledge "should come down to my office," as the hearing room erupted in laughter, the Chronicle reported.