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Jerry Brown's budget proposes broad reduction in California government's power

January 10, 2011 | 12:47 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed returning vast power, responsibility and billions of dollars to local governments as part of his state budget proposal Monday.

Brown called his proposal “vast and historic,” asking cities and counties to take over administration of fire, corrections, foster care and mental health programs that are currently the charges of state government.

Ultimately, it will be up to voters to decide if they want to strip this power from Sacramento.

Brown plans to call a special election to ask voters to extend billions in sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years. Those taxes were passed in 2009, but all will expire this year. The money from those tax extensions would be used, in part, to fund Brown’s proposal.

“We want to align responsibility with funding,” Brown said. "We feel [local governments] can make better decisions” than the state. Brown said the taxes approved by voters will cover the costs of these services for five years. After that time, the state would once again pick up the bill, even though the decision-making power would remain in the hands of local governments.

“When these taxes go away in five years, we will still be obligated to commit the funding,” Brown said, adding that his plan would “allow government at all levels to focus on core functions and become more efficient and less expensive.”

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

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Interactive: Try your hand at balancing the state budget

Document: "The complete text of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget."

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