California’s June 15 budget deadline is moving ever-closer, and today Governor Brown brought together a rarely seen coalition of agriculture, labor, business, education, and law enforcement officials, who voiced support for his plan and urged Republicans to get on board to move the state forward.
Brown began the ten o’clock news conference by saying continued gridlock in the legislature is having negative impacts across the state.
“We’ve got to do the business of California,” Brown said. “We cannot do it with just the majority party. We need four republican votes.”
“What we’re talking about is a slow-moving decline,” he said. “If we’re going to have an educated workforce and thoughtful citizenry, we’re going to have to invest far more than we are today. If we’re mounting a retreat, it affects not only this year, but a continued decline that at some point becomes irreversible.”
Bill Dombrowski, president and CEO of the California Retailers Association said continued budget wrangling profoundly impacts businesses.
“What we need is to get this uncertainty removed and end this pain,” he said. “We’re already seeing the effects of government cuts.”
Dombrowski said the governor’s plan is not perfect, but, “we think he’s put together a reasonable plan in a very difficult environment. We want the legislature to get it done.”
Art Pulaski, with the California Labor Federation, said he works with people from both parties, and everyone wants relief and stability.
“This is not a group you normally see together,” Pulaski said. “We don’t all agree with the details of this budget, but we all agree we need to come together and make compromises to find a solution…. Regardless of who we represent, we’re all Californians first. It’s time for political grandstanding to end.”
Martha Fluor, president of the California School Boards Association and a self-proclaimed “lifelong republican,” said she cannot stand by and watch schools be gutted further.
“Schools have endured $18 billion in cuts,” Fluor said. “We are cutting the very programs that ensure our students’ success, (and) we’ve reached the end of our rope.”
“I’m really frustrated and angry with my Republican colleagues, because they can do the right thing. They could have done it in March, and we wouldn’t have to go through the agony we’ve been going through in schools,” she said. “The kids are suffering. Our kids are less prepared. If we want an educated workforce, we’re not creating it right now.”
Mike McGowan, vice president of the California State Association of Counties echoed many other Republicans at the podium. “We’re not all crazy about the terms of the deal, but it must be made and it must be made now.”
“This is an issue that should have been resolved back in March,” he said. “The fact that we’re still talking about it now and that it’s unresolved is outrageous and unconscionable.”