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California budget: Gov. Jerry Brown seeks public's help via YouTube in budget fight

March 21, 2011 |  9:28 am

For weeks, Gov. Jerry Brown has lobbied lawmakers behind closed doors for his budget plan, but the thorniest part of his package -- a special election on taxes and abolishing redevelopment agencies -- remain stalled in the Legislature.

Brown has now opened up a new front in the budget fight, turning to YouTube for his first official video as governor to ask the public to call legislators to support his call for a special election on taxes.

In the video, Brown praised legislators for already paring back state services to close California’s roughly $26-billion deficit. “About half of it has now been reduced by some courageous moves by the California Legislature, but more has to be done,” he said of last week's votes. “We’re only halfway there.”

Without a public referendum to extend temporary income, sales and vehicle taxes, Brown warned there would have to be “drastic alterations in the very fabric of our public service.” He specifically named education, universitites, healthcare, police and fire services as items on the chopping block.

“Would you like the chance to cast this vote or would you feel it’s appropriate to shut out the people of California?” Brown said in the three-minute video. 

Brown tried to skirt appearing partisan –- proclaiming “I don’t see this as a Republican or Democratic issue” –- though it has been Republican legislators thus far united in blocking his call to renew the taxes. Some GOP lawmakers have been negotiating with his administration over the issue, though none have expressed public support for a special election.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento