California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, who in 25 days will inherit a state in a decade-long economic crisis, is hinting that he will ask voters to make the choice of approving higher taxes or living with big cuts in government services.
In a meeting with Republican senators this week, Brown said he wants to "rip the Band-Aid off next year," referring to the state's budget woes, and hinted that a special election this summer was part of the plan, the Los Angeles Times reported.
California has furloughed state workers and cut some services, but is still in a deep economic well.
"He intimated strongly that he wanted to go to the ballot but did not say so explicitly," Republican Senate minority leader Bob Dutton told the Times.
The new tax package has not been made public and is yet undefined. Still, the approach sheds light on how Brown plans to attack an issue that has baffled state and local governments around the country – how to deal with huge budget deficits along with declining revenues in the midst of a nationwide economic downturn.
Brown warned on Wednesday that state's $25.4 billion deficit might grow to more than $28.1 billion because of reduction in estate tax revenue, which Congress is debating in a tax compromise brokered by Republicans and President Obama.
The warning came during unusual forum led by Brown that brought together hundreds of lawmakers and local officials to discuss the state's crisis.
By law, Brown must propose a balanced budget by Jan. 10. He vowed during his campaign to not raise taxes without voter approval.