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Jerry Brown sounds Republican themes in budget plan

September 15, 2010 |  2:17 pm

A quick glance at Jerry Brown's new budget proposal might suggest the blueprint was written by a legislative Republican. The plan calls for fiscal austerity, pension reform and changing the state's environmental laws -- all calls of GOP lawmakers in Sacramento over the last several years.

Once again, Brown has quietly unveiled this major policy proposal without so much as a press release -- or even a tweet. Brown's vision for the state budget stealthily materialized within the bowels of his campaign website sometime in the last couple of days.

The eight-page proposal has some platitudes and generalities, as well as some details about Brown's ideas for wrestling with the state's ongoing budget problems.

Brown says he will "propose some structural revisions to the budget process that will keep spending under control," and notes, "I have a long and well-deserved reputation for being cheap."

In places, Brown sounds downright Republican in his ideas. He calls for easing the California Environmental Quality Act and says he will "reign in regulatory excess ... I would target for review those rules that are slowing down projects, proving to be onerous or otherwise impeding economic growth," he writes.

Some of Brown's proposals echo concepts embraced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brown wants a budget-surplus fund to help the state cope with economic downturns. And he wants to reconvene a state tax commission like the one created by Schwarzenegger, to review and reform "California's complicated tax structure." Brown also said he wants to "stop leaving federal money on the table" -- a theme of Schwarzenegger's since he dubbed himself "The Collectinator" during his first campaign for governor in 2003.

Brown says he will seek the courts' assistance to "penalize state leaders (both legislative and executive) if they don't pass a budget on time." He wants a constitutional amendment that would require any future ballot initiative to have its own source of funding. He also called for the release of elderly and terminally ill prison inmates to help reduce prison costs.

Not surprisingly, Meg Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera was not moved by the proposal. She said Brown's support for pay-as-you-go budgeting, for example, contrasts with the fact that he left California with a deficit when he left office in 1983. "Jerry Brown is not campaigning on a mandate to change Sacramento, instead his campaign is a mandate to maintain the status quo," she said. "Jerry Brown is cynically supporting principles he used to oppose, demonstrating once again why he's just another Sacramento politician who Californians can't trust."

You can download the proposal here.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento