An article in yesterday's editions stated that Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. of California was attending his first meeting of the National Governors' Association since his election in 1974. Brown attended the 1977 governors' meeting in Washington.
California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. (D) said yesterday the Carter administration was playing "a shell game" by promising to cut federal taxes while adding to the burdens of state and local government.
In his first appearance at a meeting of the National Governors' Association, and at a later session with reporters, Brown challenged the wisdom of President Carter's call for a permanent reduction in tax rates.
"Any tax cut this year should be on a one-time basis," Brown told reporters at lunch. "To raise Social Security taxes and add to the burden of property taxpayers while you reduce the progressive income tax doesn't make sense."
The comment from the California governor, who challenged Carter for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination and is widely expected to do so again in 1980, was the sharpest political note in a day of discussions about economic, energy and foreign policy at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel and the White House, where governors conferred with Carter.
Brown softened the impact of his tax-policy criticism by going out of his way to praise Carter's leadership in the energy area and the president's opposition to nuclear breeder reactors.
Meantime, Republicans, who now hold only 12 of the 50 governorships, charted plans for expanding their number in the 36 contests to be held in November. GOP National Chairman Bill Brock told a breakfast of Republican governors he would committ $500,000 of direct financial assistance to Republican candidates.
Democratic National Chairman John C. White emerged from a meeting with his party's governors saying he could not match that pledge. But White announced plans for a fund-raising telethon this summer, and said proceeds from it would be shared with state candidates.
In the formal sessions, the governors heard Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance urge their support for the administration's battle against "protectionism" in trade policy.
"Protectionism is a dangerous gamble in which everybody loses," Vance said. "There are, of course, sectors of our economy that are threatened by imports. It is tempting to think that we can solve many of our economic problems by insulating these industries from import competition."
But, he said, the effect of that policy would be to raise prices at home and jeopardize the 10 million American jobs that depend on export markets.
Brown's speech came in his first appearance at the governor's semiannual meetings during his three years as California's chief executive.
Although other governors noted pointedly that the basic issue was one their association had been working on for some time, Brown was not to be deterred from making his political point.
With property tax relief the hottest issue in California, where he is running for relection this year. Brown said it was time to end the "shell-game accounting" that he said sees the federal government "quietly shifting costs to the local property tax payer."
Brown said the federal government should pay "all the costs of federally mandated programs as far as possible," rather than shift those costs to states and localities.
He said the budget ceiling on social service spending, and provisions for unemployment compensation and the costs of Vietnam refugees, among others, have had the effect of raising state and local taxes. "It's dirty pool," he complained.
Brown also said that rather than cutting tax rates permanently, he favored economic stimulus through increased federal support for alternative energy sources and aerospace projects - both of which would benefit his state's economy.
But he declined to criticize Carter's overall record and would not go beyond his previous statements that he was not "closing the door" on any options for 1980.
After the White House meeting, Brown and New York Gov. Hugh L. Carey (D) both said the states need federal aid to develop alternative energy sources.
The governors as a group urged Carter to make "a firmer commitment to nuclear energy and a demonstrated solution to the waste-management problem."
Brown, who is skeptical of expansion of nuclear power. said Carter told them he would have a comprehensive plan to deal with the nuclear waste problem by the end of the year.