Republicans join budget pressure on Guy Houston

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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Robert Strawn


    When the economy is weakening the last thing we need is to do is send more money to our wasteful government; whether it be federal, state, local, or school district.

    Although these individuals claim to be Republicans (and I am sure they are) they are really just wearing their special interest hats. They are really nothing but people or groups that feed off the system. They do not have the taxpayer’s best interest in mind.

    I think most taxpayers are willing to wait it out if it means smaller government and fewer government programs.

    Guy, you need to stay the course.

  • Maralago

    Oh right Strawn, those are SUCH special interests, those food banks and senior citizens. Not like YOU, a guy who has given thousands to the Republican party. Not like YOU, a guy living in a wealthy suburb. Not like YOU, a guy with enough money to own his own plane. A guy whose company gives hundreds of thousands every year to the GOP. Are you hoping plane owners get the same tax break yacht owners got from your Republican friends last year? Full disclosure is a bi*ch, ain’t it.

  • John M.

    So called “Republicans” that announce that our Republican State politicians are acting irresponsibly are “Democrats” in sheep clothing.

  • Robert Strawn

    Well said John.

    Maralago, I didn’t know that I knew any liberal democrats. You might be the only one. 🙂

    But, as with all liberal democrats, your facts are messed up. I, nor my company, haven’t given hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone except the federal and state government. And that has taken several years.

    My company owns a 32 year old Cessna 172. You probably have a enough money to own one to. It is used mostly for charitable purposes. This year I have made 50 flights in it; 42 of them were for AngelFlight. To see what they do go to angelflight.org.

    BTW, the tax break for yachts, which also applies to cars, planes, and any other taxable property, was written into law in 1963. I think Edmund Brown, Sr. was Governor at the time. I willing to bet that more than a few rich democrats have taken advantage of the tax break.