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“Raise taxes. That clear enough? Raise taxes.”

From the Los Angeles Times:

State Democrats determined to raise taxes

By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:11 PM PST, March 4, 2008

SACRAMENTO — Democratic legislative leaders declared this morning that they are prepared to delay the state budget this year if that’s what it takes to get tax increases, which they called the only reasonable solution to California’s multibillion-dollar shortfall.

“This is going to be the fight of a lifetime,” Senate leader Don Perata (D-Oakland) declared at a news conference on the steps of a Sacramento high school that faces teacher layoffs and bigger classes under the governor’s proposed budget, which closes the deficit with spending cuts, borrowing and deferrals.

“We are not going to be going anywhere this summer,” he said, referring to the annual midyear process of trying to agree on a budget by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. “I told everybody that wants to go to the Democratic [National] Convention, … TiVo it. That is close as you are going to get.”

Perata drew his line in the sand while standing with his successor as Senate chief, Democrat Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, and other Democratic senators and school leaders. Perata said the governor’s proposal to cut school spending by 10% is unacceptable, and Democrats will reject any budget that includes less for education next year than this year.

Asked how Democrats propose to make up the difference, Perata said: “Raise taxes. That clear enough? Raise taxes.”

Given the state’s dire finances, he said, “no one is going to tell me . . . the average Californian would not be willing to pay pennies on the dollar more for an education system . . . that is worth what we believe California is about.”

Perata said Democrats want about $5 billion in tax increases and will spend the next few months devising their plan for which taxes to raise. He said they are considering sales taxes, and taxes on the rich.

“The public knows what needs to be done,” he said. “They are waiting for the leaders to step up and do it. So we are going to do it.”

Republican lawmakers have repeatedly said they will not vote for any budget that includes new taxes.

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