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Jerry Brown enlists law enforcement leaders for budget pitch

April 13, 2011 |  3:35 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown gathered law enforcement leaders Wednesday in the Capitol to defend his budget plan, which would shift some of the burden of incarcerating convicts to cities and counties and ask voters to ratify billions in taxes.

“The system of corrections itself is failing,” Brown said, citing statistics that indicate 70% of those released from prison are arrested again. “This is not a sustainable system. Something has to give.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was among the district attorneys, probation officers and other law enforcement leaders who joined Brown to press Republican lawmakers to put the governor's tax-extension plan before voters later this year.

Baca argued that the taxes Brown seeks from Californians amount to the cost of “maybe eight cups of coffee per year.”

Brown is seeking higher levels of sales, income and vehicle taxes that amount to nearly $10 billion a  year for the next five years. He  has been unable to persuade any Republicans to support his tax election plan.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) said Brown’s corrections plan would result in the early release of thousands of criminals and lead to “blood in the streets.”

Some Democrats and their allies now say they would like to see Brown enact the taxes without a public vote. But that would still require at least four GOP votes in the Legislature.

Brown dismissed suggestions that some Republicans would be more likely to vote for tax increases that were not put up for public ratification. But he quipped, “If they’re around, I’m going to take them to dinner."

-- Anthony York in Sacramento