Gov. Jerry Brown urged the Legislature on Friday to "man up" and make spending cuts, acknowledging the state budget deficit is likely larger than he previously thought.
The Democratic governor, in an interview on Bay Area talk radio station KGO (810 AM), said the deficit is "probably bigger now" than the $9.2 billion he estimated earlier this year.
"We're trying to be as prudent as we can," Brown said. "That's why the Legislature has to man up, make the cuts and get some taxes and we'll make it."
Democrats this year have resisted Brown's proposed cuts to social services and higher education, and his demand that spending reductions be enacted by March fell flat.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has said it is too early in the budget calendar to make potentially unnecessary cuts. His spokeswoman, Alicia Trost, said Friday that "it's best to wait and get a clear picture" of the budget when Brown revises his budget proposal in May. Trost said Democrats have enacted spending reductions in previous years and "this year will be no different."
Brown's "man up" remark was reminiscent of when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called legislative Democrats "girlie men" in 2004, also in a budget dispute.
"Uh-oh ," Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's former press secretary, said on Twitter, "sounds a lot like 'Girly Men.' "
In the radio interview, Brown promoted his November ballot initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, but he stepped back from his previous characterization of the initiative as a "millionaires' tax."
"I'm not calling it that," he said.
In campaign material, Brown and his allies have emphasized the effect of his proposal on millionaires, and Brown previously defended calling it a "millionaires' tax" because "everybody who makes $250,000 becomes a millionaire very quickly if you save."
Brown, whose proposal would increase income taxes on people who earn at least $250,000 a year, said Friday it was the California Democratic Party, not him, that characterized the tax as a "millionaires' tax."
"What happened was, I sent my petition out to my email list, and I put an attachment of the actual signature petition, and the Democratic Party had put some thing, some little explanatory material and put 'millionaires' tax,' " he said.
Tax revenues so far this year have fallen behind Brown's January projections, coming in $236 million below Brown's estimate in March, and $898 million below forecast through the first nine months of the fiscal year. April is a significant month for income tax revenue, and state officials are closely watching returns.