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Faith-based, community groups pray for California budget fix

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June 14, 2011 | Sacramento Bee

With just one day remaining until the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget, some observers are hoping a higher power can help close a deal to extend the duration of temporary tax rates set to expire.

Hundreds of people from across the state gathered at the Capitol late this morning for a march and prayer rally in support of a budget that protects funding for education and social services.

"We're here because we believe balancing the budget is the moral thing to do," the Rev. Sharon Stanley, of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, told the crowd. "And supporting the hopes and aspirations of the young people that we love and sharing responsibility for caring for them and caring for the poor is the moral thing to do."

Speakers at the rally, held on the Capitol's south steps and organized by a coalition of faith-based and community groups called PICO California, urged lawmakers to support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal that the Legislature approve extending higher tax rates temporarily and set an election to ask the voters to decide at a later date whether to approve them for a longer period of time.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told the crowd that Republican votes needed to pass the tax proposal "don't appear to be forthcoming," but reiterated his pledge to move forward with a budget vote by the June 15 deadline with or without a bipartisan agreement.

"Those votes could come between now and five o'clock, or between now and midnight, or between now and four in the morning, and I have said, 'Call me any time, day or night,' But I will tell you this, if those voters aren't there, the majority party will in fact use its majority power to do the very best we can to pass a budget on time that protects the most vulnerable in California," the Sacramento Democrat said.