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If taxes fail, Republicans say they can help avoid cuts to schools

October 30, 2012 |  2:22 pm

Bob Huff 2Republican leaders in the California Legislature are already planning their next steps if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan next week.

In a Tuesday letter to school leaders, the Republicans said they want to work with Democrats to prevent nearly $6 billion in cuts if the taxes are voted down.

"Throughout this year's budget debate, Republicans argued that education did not have to be the target of these deep trigger cuts," wrote state Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare).

About $5.4 billion of the cuts would hit public schools and community colleges. The Cal State and University of California systems would face a $250 million cut each.

Brown's plan, Proposition 30, would increase the sales tax by a quarter cent for four years and income taxes on the wealthy by one to three percentage points for seven years. Support for the ballot measure has dropped in recent polls, and the governor has been crisscrossing the state to rally voters.

It's unclear if the Republicans' efforts will bear any fruit. Brown says cuts can't be prevented without higher taxes, and the current budget includes a roughly $8.5-billion gap that Democrats expect to fill with new tax revenue.

In addition, the governor has said he'll veto any effort to avoid the automatic cuts if the taxes are rejected.

[Updated 4:35 p.m.: A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the Democratic leader is ready to work with Republicans but dismissed their letter, saying it “doesn’t hold water.” 

“With education funding in the balance and no viable nor new solutions offered, it's disappointing that this is nothing more than a terribly timed attempt at political point scoring,” said the spokesman, Rhys Williams.]


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Photo: Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R–Diamond Bar) argues against Democrats' budget plan in the Capitol in June. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press