Convincing Business on the Budget Plan

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Describing himself as the Rip Van Winkle of California politics, Governor Jerry Brown, now back in the governorship after a long absence, was aggressively selling his budget plan to 1500 members and guests of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce last night.

Brown was looking for business support to help convince Republicans to get tax measures – he called them “revenue extensions” – on the ballot and to help get the tax extensions passed. He said earlier in the day, “It’s absolutely crucial that the people in business … get behind the effort to fix the mess in Sacramento.”

When asked at an airport news conference earlier in the day how he would convince the businesses of the need to pass the tax measures, Brown responded he would argue “stability,” adding that Californians should not “create undue turbulence” by defeating the tax measures thus requiring more budget cuts.

Brown insisted business would go along with his plan because what he was proposing was reasonable and that the chamber was reasonable.

Of course, the business community is no monolithic group. Some segments of the business community may very well go along with the governor’s tax and cuts budget, while others might not. During the 2009 special election, the measure extending taxes saw business groups on both sides of the issue. Big businesses and small businesses do not always agree with small businesses, which live close to a profit margin, feeling the immediate effect of taxes.

Brown realizes he has a job to do to convince legislators of both parties to agree on his plan. He told the business audience that he was performing “shuttle diplomacy” between the two parties. Earlier, he said, that both Republicans and Democrats must make concessions and that his job is to get the warring factions together.

Brown received his biggest applause during the short dinner speech when he said he didn’t want a one-party plan, but a California plan.

When asked earlier in the day about the Republicans refusal to support the tax measures, Brown responded, “It’s not a Sherman-like no. “No, I won’t,” “No, I can’t,” “No, it will never happen.” “It’s a “no, but…and “no, but” is very close to a “yes, but.”

Apparently, Brown feels his diplomacy efforts are needed not only with politicians but also with different members of the business community. Indicating tension still exists between Brown and the state chamber of commerce, Brown concluded his remarks, saying, “The Los Angeles chamber is going to lead the way, and you’re going to show the state chamber.”

The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce was a comfortable place for Brown to make his pitch on tax extensions for the LA Chamber has been one business group that has more readily supported tax measures over the years.

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