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In brief: Budget contingent on proposed taxes

Thu., June 28, 2012

Sacramento, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new budget for California on Wednesday that relies heavily on voters approving his proposed tax hikes in November.

Democrats passed 21 budget implementing bills on a majority vote intended to satisfy the governor’s demand for deeper cuts to close a $15.7 billion deficit, and Brown signed the main bill before a midnight deadline.

The spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes welfare and social service cuts. It also assumes voters will approve Brown’s tax hike on the November ballot.

If voters reject the tax initiative, a series of automatic cuts will be triggered, including three weeks less of public school for the next two years.

Brown believes the tax initiative will raise $8.5 billion in the new fiscal year starting July 1 by increasing the sales tax by a quarter cent to 7.5 percent for four years, and boosting the income tax on people who make more than $250,000 a year for seven years.

40-year sentence in ‘self-defense’ case

Houston – A jury sentenced a Texas man Wednesday to 40 years in prison for killing a neighbor, despite his contention that he was merely standing his ground.

Raul Rodriguez, 47, had faced a possible life sentence.

His attorneys had asked for a five-year sentence, arguing that Rodriguez thought he was within his rights under the state’s “stand-your-ground” self-defense law when he fatally shot neighbor Kelly Danaher, 36, in 2010.

Rodriguez, a disabled firefighter and Navy veteran, was convicted June 13 of murdering Danaher after coming over to complain about a noisy birthday party. Rodriguez videotaped his dispute with the elementary school teacher, narrating that he was defending himself and “standing my ground here.”

But prosecutors argued that the attack wasn’t about self-defense, but was premeditated murder by a man who always liked to be in control of his surroundings.

“When you take your gun, your two magazines, your videocamera and your cellphone and you document how you feel, that was premeditated,” prosecutor Donna Logan told the jury.


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