California’s Brown sees "good chance" for budget

SAN FRANCISCO, March 4 (Reuters) – California Governor
Jerry Brown said he was lobbying some Republicans “under cover
of darkness” for his state budget plan and saw a good chance of
legislators approving it next week.

Brown is asking legislators to call a state special
election in June so voters can approve or deny a mix of
spending cuts and tax hikes to close a $25 billion gap.

Speaking after the San Francisco-area business group Bay
Area Council endorsed the plan, Brown predicted he would hit
a self-imposed March 10 deadline for a deal with legislators.

California’s state budget gap is the largest in the nation,
and Brown’s attempt to extend tax hikes is seen as a crucial
test in a strongly anti-tax U.S. environment.

California Republicans so far have maintained a united
front against Brown’s plan to ask voters to extend tax hikes
due to expire this year, but Brown said he had met some
interest.

“I think we have a good chance, but I’m not ready to
predict victory yet,” Brown told reporters after the meeting.
“Thursday or close to it” was a reasonable deadline for a
legislative vote, he said. Brown wants the special election on
June 15.

The governor also agreed that some Democrats critical of
spending cuts would not support his plan. Some Republicans are
considering backing him, but he declined to name them.

“I’m not going to blow their cover,” he said. “They can
only come under the cover of darkness,” he said.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Gary Hill)