Republican and Democratic members of the “Al-Costa Budget Coalition” — self-described as a group of more than 40 schools and nonprofits serving the elderly, people with disabilities, families with health problems and other residents of Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley area — met this morning with Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore, to urge a resolution to the state budget impasse.
In a news release, Health Access organizer Jessica Rothhaar said “a growing number of local Republicans believe that the state GOP leadership is behaving irresponsibly by continuing to insist that the budget be balanced through cuts and borrowing alone. He should listen to them.”
Added Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District board member Bill Morrison: “I’m a fiscally conservative Republican, but I cannot see any way out of this big hole we are in without some reasonable tax increases.”
Margo Dutton of Walnut Creek, the CEO of Rehabilitation Services of Northern California — a Pleasant Hill agency serving seniors and people with disabilities — said lawmakers are elected to represent their constituents and make hard decisions. “I come from three generations of Republicans and have supported Republican candidates, but it looks to me like GOP legislators are pursing a partisan agenda at the expense of their constituents. If they want to be fiscally responsible, why would they close down adult day health care centers and force participants into nursing homes that cost four times as much?”
And Mt. Diablo Education Association President Mike Noce, a Republican, said he wants a budget signed as much as anyone “but it makes no sense to pass a budget that just kicks the can down the road to next year, like the Governor said. Assemblyman Houston has to represent his constituents, and polls show that the majority of the people in this district support new revenues.”
It’s not the first time the Al-Costa Budget Coalition has targeted Houston, the Bay Area’s lone Republican lawmaker and now a lame duck, but bringing local Republicans to the fore as it did today is an interesting tactic aimed at weakening Houston’s argument that he’s faithfully representing his base.
Not that I doubt these Republicans’ bona fides (though I see Dutton never actually says she’s a Republican), but it’s worth noting that press for this event was handled by Paschal/Roth Public Affairs, whose current clients include only Together for California’s Future and the Sacramento Rivercats. And since I’m reasonably sure a minor league baseball team isn’t pressuring Houston to give ground on the budget, it would seem the Al-Costa Budget Coalition is a project of a bigger, more-left-leaning coalition of labor unions, anti-poverty organizations and social-service agencies.
UPDATE @ 2:45 P.M.: This just in from Kimberly Cox, Houston’s press secretary, whom I’d contacted earlier about the coalition’s visit: “Mr. Houston does not have any comments.”