On budget, let us vote!

To get a feel for the choices Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature face in solving California’s budget crisis, take the SN&R’s “OK, you fix the budget!” challenge.

Gov. Jerry Brown has minced no words in calling for legislators once and for all to take action to resolve the state’s structural budget deficit, now more than $26 billion, and approve his budget proposal.

Brown’s plan calls for $12.5 billion in budget cuts, an extension of $9 billion in taxes due to expire later this year, and a historic realignment of state government that would shift most services to local governments. The package will require a vote of the people in a special election in order to become effective. As Brown knows all too well, it’s a proposal people love to hate.

“If you are a Democrat who doesn’t want to make budget reductions in programs you fought for and deeply believe in, I understand that,” the governor said. “If you are a Republican who has taken a stand against taxes, I understand where you are coming from.”

Most pointedly, he stated that it would be “unconscionable” for Republican legislators to block the election. Noting that they have failed to produce an alternative budget, he insisted the people “have a right” to vote on this plan. “The state belongs to all of us, not just those in this chamber,” he said.

Polls show voters want to vote. Republican legislators need to understand that they do themselves, their party and the state a disservice by being obstinate without offering alternatives. They should either come up with $25 billion in cuts or get out of the way and let the people decide.