California's state legislators have gone home, leaving in their wake hundreds of bills either ratified or rejected. They have also, for the time being, shut down their interparty warfare operations... which gives us a moment to open up a raft of questions about why things played out the way they did these last few weeks.
Which begs a cleaning out of the Reporter's Notebook for the 2011 legislative session, and the bills that drove much of the narrative of the final days.
Brown's Tax Troubles: No one ever thought that Governor Jerry Brown's jobs/tax credits proposal was going to sail easily through the Legislature, including Brown. Passage, if it happened, was going to be by the slimmest of margins, and the governor's eleventh hour news conference, announcing a half deal, was proof that he was trying every tactic... from public prodding to private cajoling.
But just minutes before the end of session, the Senate failed to line up behind the underpinning of the governor's plan, the $1 billion tightening of a corporate business tax break. And while the vote tally makes clear the dearth of Republican support -- as in zero in the upper house -- so, too, was the softness of support among Democratic senators. Even several who supported the governor lamented in floor speeches the last minute nature of the plan (both the tightening of this tax break and the opening of new tax breaks for small businesses and certain taxpayers). Two Dems abstained from voting -- state Sens. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and Rod Wright (D-Inglewood). And one, state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), actually voted no.
That may help explain why Brown's accusatory statement issued after the vote failed to draw a partisan line. But clearly, Republican legislators and their stance on taxes have vexed the governor since he took office in January. Even when he tried to divide and conquer on the tax issue -- aligning small business owners with him and ostensibly opposed to the interests of big business -- Brown could not break through. In fact, perhaps the most interesting item reported in the wake of Friday's votes comes in Monday's column by Los Angeles Times George Skelton, with word that Brown's failure to win over anti-tax advocate Jon Coupal may have bolstered GOP opposition.