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With budget talks stuck, blame game begins

June 23, 2011 |  2:23 pm

Rhetorical barbs flew back-and-forth across the Capitol Thursday, as Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown jockeyed for position in the blame game as budget talks have faltered with eight days left in the fiscal year.

The day began with Senate Republicans calling a news conference, symbolically, outside the governor’s office to accuse him of holding up a tax election by refusing to agree to their pension and spending constraint demands.

“We are here to make it clear once and again that the reason that there is no budget deal is that the governor and the Democratic majority in the Legislature and their allies refuse to allow the voters the opportunity to reform pensions and control state overspending,” Senate minority leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said.

Dutton reiterated that there are now sufficient GOP votes for a tax election, but that Republicans still rebuff Brown’s demand that expiring sales and vehicle levies be extended until that election can be held.

For the governor, that’s a dealbreaker.

Brown spokesman Gil Duran snapped back in a statement that Republicans have “again shown what they’re best at grandstanding without solving problems.”

Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), meanwhile, accused Brown of being beholden to organized labor. “The public unions and the governor have become the problem in this, not the Republicans,” he said. And Dutton piled on that, for the governor, it “would seem there’s a greater concern for the public employee unions than there are about our children in school.”

But Democrats insist extending taxes until an election is about schoolchildren, not unions. They say it is necessary to stave off deeper cuts to public education.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who spoke to reporters en route to a union-led rally, said he was sick of hearing Republicans accuse Democrats of being led by their organized labor masters.

“It gets old to hear the same old tired rhetoric that, by the way isn’t true,” Steinberg said.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento