* Republican lawmaker says talks stalled
* Democratic governor's spokesman says continuing
By Jim Christie
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - California's
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and five Republicans he needs
to reach a balanced budget deal couldn't even agree Monday
about whether or not they were still negotiating.
Republican state Senator Tom Harman said talks had
"Basically the ball is in his court," Harman told Reuters.
"He knows where we are."
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a top
Democratic lawmaker, said work on California's budget would
continue and Brown spokesman Gil Duran disputed that talks had
"They're going to keep talking," Duran said.
Harman said his group had been pressing hard in
negotiations for a spending cap, easing regulations and an
overhaul of the state's pension system.
"He had problems with each of those major areas," Harman
Brown needs a handful of Republican votes in the
Democrat-led state Senate and Assembly to advance the
cornerstone of his budget plan. Its key component involves
putting a ballot measure to voters in June asking them to
extend tax increases that expire this year to raise revenue.
That money, along with some $12 billion in spending cuts
and other moves, would help plug California's budget deficit,
the biggest of any U.S. state, and help bolster its finances
beyond its next fiscal year that starts in July.
California's budget gap may near $27 billion through
mid-2012, up from an initial forecast of more than $25
Most of California's Republican lawmakers oppose tax
increases so the five who had been holding talks with Brown are
seen as critical to his planned tax measure. If they were to
vote to put a tax measure on the ballot, Brown would be able to
tell voters it has bipartisan support.
The five Republicans also declared an impasse a week ago,
yet talks resumed.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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