Darrell Steinberg ready to end Calif. budget talks

State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, urges members of the state Senate to approve Gov. Jerry Brown's state budget plan at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday March 17, 2011. By a party-line vote, both houses of the legislature approved Brown's main budget bill but did not approve putting tax extensions before voters or eliminating redevelopment agencies.(AP Photo)

March 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Assembly Speaker John Perez walked out of Gov. Jerry Brown's office saying budget talks have taken a step back. Two different Republican leaders have now taken over negotiations and given Brown their undisclosed list of demands two weeks past the deadline.

"We made the presentation to the Governor as far as we felt was necessary in order to restore California and help create jobs. And he's going to think about it and get back to us," Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said.

Democrats are becoming increasingly frustrated, threatening to end negotiations and put the special election to extend some temporary taxes up for a floor vote, a proposal that Republicans refuse to support without an overhaul in government operations.

"If these guys don't start moving fast, I'm prepared to pull the plug," Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said. "If the vote isn't there, then we are going to consider the other pathways."

Parents and teachers are glad to hear other pathways are being considered to get the tax extensions on the ballot. Tens of thousands of pink slips went out to California teachers earlier this month and voter approval to pay the higher tax rates for five more years could save those jobs. Otherwise, public schools could see the budget axe for another $5 billion dollars, a funding cut they can hardly afford.

"Definitely, they should have a special election. If they're going to take everything away, we should have a right to say, 'Hey, wait a minute," concerned parent Sabrina Fritz said.

"The one thing I feel like sometimes, I'm letting kids move on to the next level that didn't get everything they needed with me," fifth grade teacher Marc DeVore said.

One Republican involved in earlier negotiations isn't ready to give up hope.

"It's possible anytime for these guys to finally come to a consensus.. I think the consensus is getting closer all the time," St. Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, said.

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