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Brown says state government has become 'constipated'

July 1, 2010 |  2:55 pm

In an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown said he has an ambitious plan to ask voters to fundamentally alter the relationship between Californians and their government.

While offering few details of what he has in mind, Brown assured reporter Jane Wells that he has a plan ready to put before voters. "I've got the plan to go to the people step by step," he said. Brown reiterated that he would not approve any tax increases as governor without a vote of the people.

Over the last two decades, state voters have helped tie the hands of budget makers by passing a series of complex funding formulas and guarantees for everything from public schools to local governments to mental health programs.

Brown said he is ready to "lead a process whereby the people have teed up for them some key decisions about what we're going to do less of and what we're going to do differently."

The idea itself is not a new one. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was first elected, he asked voters to approve $15 billion in loans to help close the state's budget gap, promising to "tear up the state's credit card" after the campaign. That didn't work out so well. In 2009, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature asked voters for help to approve a series of budget solutions that required voters to amend some of the constitutional changes they have made over the last two decades.

That effort was overwhelmingly rejected. Brown also indicated some support for the ideas being pushed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) to turn over the administration of some state programs to counties and cities. "Can we move function down to the local level?" Brown asked rhetorically, adding that state government "has become constipated and overloaded with too many conflicting mandates."

We'll keep you posted if we get any more details about any of Brown's high-fiber proposals.... You can watch the CNBC interview below.

--Anthony York in Sacramento