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California budget: Have Republicans outfoxed Jerry Brown?

Republican lawmakers refuse to give in to Gov. Jerry Brown and his plan to fix the California budget through a special election on tax extensions. That leaves Brown with few palatable options.

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Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday that he was still trying to reach a compromise with Republican lawmakers on the California budget. He wants to put a tax extension on a special election ballot.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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With time quickly running out and public opinion turning against him, Gov. Jerry Brown appears to have few options to save his California budget plan, none of them good.

Facing him are Republican legislators who don’t want to allow a key element of his plan – $12 billion in tax extensions – go before a public vote. At stake is the $26.4 billion budget gap, which Governor Brown helped trim Thursday by approving $11.2 billion in cuts, including hikes in community-college fees and slashed welfare grants.

Brown insists that he can still sway four Republicans – two in the Assembly and two in the Senate – to back his tax-extension plan, giving it the votes needed to put it on the ballot this summer. But as the stalemate in Sacramento continues, and with polls showing Californians' support for the extensions slipping, some political scientists are asking whether Brown has been outflanked by a younger generation of politicians playing by different rules.

“What he fails to understand is that in today's highly polarized political arena, ideologically extreme position-takers consistently beat old-school partisan compromisers," says Lara Brown, a political scientist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania and author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency.”

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