"What I'm proposing is not a panacea, but it goes a long way toward cleaning up the state's budget mess," said Gov. Brown.
Democrats, who control the Legislature, have resisted Brown's proposed cuts so far this year. Republican lawmakers criticized the majority party for building in overly optimistic tax revenues.
"Today's news underscores how we must rein in spending and let our economy grow by leaving overburdened taxpayers alone," said Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway in a statement.
The governor pursued a ballot initiative because Republican lawmakers would not provide the votes needed to reach the two-thirds legislative majority required to raise taxes.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, acknowledged that lawmakers have "limited and difficult choices left to solve the deficit." Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he wasn't surprised by the deficit spike given that state tax revenue have fallen $3.5 billion below projections in the current year.
"We will deal with it," Steinberg said Saturday. "And we know that more cuts are inevitable but we will do our very, very best to save more than we lose, especially for those in need."
Under Brown's tax plan, California would temporarily raise the state's sales tax by a quarter-cent and increase the income tax on people who make $250,000 or more. Brown is projecting his tax initiative would raise as much as $9 billion, but a review by the nonpartisan analyst's office estimates revenue of $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2012-13.
Supporters of the "Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012" say the additional revenue would help maintain current funding levels for public schools and colleges and pay for programs that benefit seniors and low-income families. It also would provide local governments with a constitutional guarantee of funding to comply with a new state law that shifts lower-level offenders from state prisons to county jails.
A second tax hike headed for the November ballot is being promoted by Los Angeles civil rights attorney Molly Munger, whose initiative would raise income taxes on a sliding scale for nearly all wage-earners to help fund schools.
Anti-tax groups and Republican lawmakers say both tax increases will hurt California's economic recovery. State Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro has embarked on a statewide campaign to discuss alternatives to Brown's tax hikes.
The governor is expected to propose a contingency plan with a list of unpopular cuts that would kick in automatically if voters reject tax hikes this fall. In January, he said they would result in a K-12 school year shortened by up to three weeks, higher college tuition fees and reduced funding for courts.
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Associated Press writer Judy Lin, reporting from Sacramento, California, in context here: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47401140/ns/us_news-life/#.T68nklLh7No