State budget talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican lawmakers deteriorated Friday as Republicans released a long list of proposals to overhaul California government that Democrats said had further divided the parties.
According to a document Senate Republicans provided to reporters, they asked Brown for pension cuts to current and future employees, as well as changes to teacher tenure that reward performance and a hard cap on future state spending, among dozens of ideas.
The Republican document also said the GOP sought a June ballot that asks voters for only an 18-month extension in higher taxes on vehicles, sales and income, while Brown wants five additional years of those tax rates. He needs at least two Republican votes in each house to place the measure before voters.
"Republicans were accused of being the party of 'no' and now Republicans are accused of being the party of 'too much yes,' " said Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, in a joint statement.
Democratic leaders suggested Friday a possible shift in strategy to bypass the GOP. After Republicans presented the list of issues that Brown's office said numbered 53, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, said the two sides were "further away" than before.
"I think this takes us clearly to a point where we will quickly have to decide whether or not to pursue solutions that do not require Republican votes," Pérez told reporters after meeting with Brown.
The list provided by Republicans included notations of where Brown and Democratic leaders had agreed and disagreed, a rare unveiling that serves as a bad sign for negotiations.
According to GOP notes, Brown is willing to accept a $106,000 per year cap on final pension amounts and impose new restrictions intended to block workers from spiking their payouts. But he rejected increases in cost-sharing, as well as any move toward a 401(k) style plan, for current employees. He was, however, open to creating a hybrid option for future workers.
The document also outlines a host of requests to change environmental laws, ranging from a cap on attorney fees to allowing environmental review exemptions for infill projects.
Republicans are also pushing to retain enterprise zone tax credits for businesses and a compromise that retains redevelopment agencies. They noted that Brown is not sending the enterprise zone plan or a business tax formula change to the ballot, implying that it runs afoul of his campaign pledge not to raise taxes without voter approval.
The Democratic governor is trying to win a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to put tax extensions on a June ballot, which requires the Republican votes.
With talks failing, however, Brown and other Democrats are considering alternatives, including an initiative campaign or a maneuver to put taxes on the ballot through a simple majority.
Brown spokesman Gil Duran said late Friday that he could not immediately verify the accuracy of the Republican list. He said talks continue and that "serious negotiations should never be carried out through the press."
Brown complained this week that Republicans had yet to tell him what concessions they might require in exchange for their votes.
"When you're this far into a discussion, you would expect the issues to narrow," Duran said, "not to expand."
A group of Senate Republicans who had talked with Brown previously demanded pension, regulatory and other government changes.
But after talks seemed to intensify Thursday, members of the so-called GOP 5 said Friday that negotiations were now being handled by Dutton and Huff.
Dutton said he presented Brown a "complete package of reforms" and was waiting to hear back. When asked how many items he presented or about what, he said, "It's all major issues."
Duran, who said talks were continuing, said Brown asked Dutton in a letter later Friday to "focus on the essentials."
Members of both houses were told to stay within several hours of the Capitol in case floor votes are called this weekend. But nothing Friday suggested that is likely.
"I don't think we're at a point where trying to describe the state of negotiations is a terribly fruitful exercise," Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a member of the GOP 5, said during Friday's floor session.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said that if a deal does not emerge in coming days he is "prepared to pull the plug" and move forward with floor votes on a June tax election.