Brown: Don’t surprise voters with shorter school year

In an extraordinary appearance Thursday before a legislative budget panel, Gov. Jerry Brown gave his first public disclosure of how schools would fare in a cuts-only budget next year if voters shoot down his tax extensions in the June election.

If you're going to have $25 billion in cuts, and you're going to cut four or five weeks out of the school, I think people are very shocked if you didn't ask their permission," said Brown.

The governor's appearance at the joint budget conference committee may have been the first time since the 1960s that California's chief executive sat at the witness table before a formal committee hearing.

His statement provided a glimpse of the potential message that the governor may bring to voters as a way to convince them to extend taxes on income, sales, and vehicle licenses.

But before he has that opportunity, Brown must first convince at least four Republicans - two from the Senate and two from the Assembly - to approve the plan.

In what was perhaps the governor's strongest public indictment against the GOP's decision to block the ballot measure, Brown questioned the Republican's very patriotism.

"When you folks say no - no vote, no plan, no - that's not American. It's not acceptable, and it's not loyalty to California," he said.

"I think the voters ought to give us their permission," he added. "This is drastic stuff."

But Republicans present at the hearing held the line against a vote they say is unnecessary because voters have defeated prior tax proposals.

"You control the press, and when you say that all we say is no, I'm very, very hurt and very insulted," said Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, to the governor at the hearing.

"I tried to have an open dialogue," she continued. "But the only thing that you want yes to, and the only thing that the members on the other side of the aisle want yes to...is yes to more taxes. And we can't go there."

Upon his exit, while being bombarded by reporters as he stepped toward a private elevator, Brown reiterated that he was still seeking Republican support.