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Reactions to Obama’s same-sex marriage stance

Here’s what some of California’s state and federal elected officials are saying about President Obama’s statement today affirming support for same-sex marriage rights:

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer “This is a historic day and another step in our country’s long march toward equal rights and justice for all. The President’s statement is a milestone and so important for the millions of American families who deserve full equality. None of us can rest until marriage equality is a reality for all Americans.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi “Today marks progress for the civil rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans. With President Obama’s support, we look forward to the day when all American families are treated equally in the eyes of the law.

“Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history. Just yesterday, a Republican-backed amendment to ban same-sex marriage passed in North Carolina. Here in the House, Republican leaders refuse to bring up a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes critical domestic violence protections for the LGBT community, and they are using taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act in court. These actions only serve to advance fundamental unfairness in our society.

“Throughout American history, we have worked to live up to our values of liberty and freedom, and to end discrimination in all of its forms. Today, we took another step forward in our march toward equality.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“I have never been more proud of our President than I am today. His journey to acceptance is an example of the one value we honor most in America, freedom; freedom to choose who we love, freedom to choose who we marry, freedom to choose who we partner with to raise a family. Denying the right for any two people to marry is discrimination. I can only hope the President’s personal position will swell the tide of public opinion to end prejudice against the LGBT community.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

John Perez “I am very proud of the President for today’s eloquent and bold announcement that he supports marriage equality for every person in this country. As with many Americans, his views on this issue have evolved towards an embrace of dignity, respect and justice for every American. Like the President’s successful effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I believe today will be remembered as a major milestone in the LGBT movement, and one that gives credence to Dr. Martin Luther King’s observation that ‘the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.’ I am deeply grateful for the President’s leadership on this fundamental issue of civil rights.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Equality before the law is a pillar of American democracy. I applaud President Obama’s support for the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

For counterpoint, here’s Alliance Defense Fund litigation staff counsel Jim Campbell:

“This shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. Marriage – the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman – is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes. The president has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. Today’s statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Under: Assembly, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Kamala Harris, Leland Yee, Lynn Woolsey, Mark Leno, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Rich Gordon, same-sex marriage, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 50 Comments »

Scandal can’t slow Assembly fundraising

Even a key supporter’s scandal can’t slow the hustle and bustle of a contested campaign.

Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer – now in rehabilitation for undisclosed addictions after a former lover allegedly attacked her in a Newark motel room early this month – and her husband, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, had been scheduled to hold a fundraiser tonight at their home for Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, who’s running for the 20th Assembly District seat.

Quirk, who’s tight enough with the Lockyers that he served as the treasurer for Nadia Lockyer’s 2010 supervisorial campaign, emailed supporters Sunday to announce that the event – for which tickets cost from $50 to $1,000 – had been moved to an Italian restaurant in Oakland Hayward. (My apologies; I frequent Buon Appetito myself, and misstating the city was a careless error on my part.) “Nadia and Bill Lockyer will have an event at their home sometime in the spring,” Quirk wrote.

You’ve got to wonder whether that’s wishful thinking, given that family’s unfortunate disarray.

As Quirk competes with Democrats Jennifer Ong and Sarabjit Cheema and independent Mark Green (while Republican Adnan Shahab has dropped out) in this top-two primary, the fundraising beat goes on even in districts with incumbents.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, is still calling for RSVPs to her wine-and-hors-d’oeuvres reception with Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, next Tuesday, March 6 at Alamo’s Round Hill Country Club. Tickets start at $50 while a “leader” package of 10 tickets plus signage and special acknowledgement costs $3,900, all going to buoy Buchanan’s bid for a third and final Assembly term serving the newly drawn 16th District. Among her challengers will be Republican David Haubert of Dublin.

UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M.: Per the comments below, I neglected to mention Estes Albert “Al” Phillips of Livermore as a Republican contender in the 16th Assembly District. I’d noticed a statement-of-intent in the Secretary of State’s database under the name Estes Phillips, but didn’t know he goes by Al and so couldn’t find his campaign’s website earlier. My apologies.

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, Assembly, campaign finance, Joan Buchanan, John Perez | 5 Comments »

What they’re saying about Jerry Brown’s tax plan

Gov. Jerry Brown today issued an open letter to Californians announcing, as expected, that he’s filing a proposed ballot measure to hike income taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year and temporarily boost the state sales tax by half a cent to prevent devastating budget cuts in education and public safety.

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Californians realize that four years of draconian cuts have swung the pendulum too far. We’ve done enough damage, and enough is enough. It’s time to stop the bleeding and begin reinvesting in public education and local public safety. The Governor’s plan dedicates new revenue where it’s most needed – guaranteed to go directly into our public school and community college classrooms. At the same time, it protects ongoing funding for local public safety programs. The temporary taxes also create a more equitable system, with everyone paying a little more in sales tax while the wealthiest among us pay their fair share at a time when they enjoy record income growth. Bringing more balance to the support of essential services will begin to restore the greatness of our state.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

“Clearly the governor has put tax hikes ahead of job creation. Californians have consistently voted down tax-only proposals. Senate Republicans continue a call to action on reforms first. Only with reforms can we put Californians back to work and restore the people’s confidence in state government.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor’s revenue plan is fair, focused and forward-thinking. The plan asks the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share and takes us another major step forward on getting control of our long-term finances. More importantly, this plan helps minimize the need for cuts to higher education and other critical services and ensures that California is making the kinds of investments in education and public safety that will keep our communities safe and help our economic prosperity in the long term. I believe this is a plan that every Californian can and will support, and I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to win approval from the voters.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

“Governor Brown is once again relying on his failed budget playbook in proposing a massive $35 billion tax increase on hard-working Californians and job creators. Voters rejected similar tax increases in the past and have shown a strong reluctance in polls to accepting higher taxes to bailout Sacramento. Ironically, Sacramento Democrats are again proposing higher taxes at a time when Washington Democrats are suggesting a tax increase on families could plunge the country back into recession.

“Despite their rhetoric, it is clear that our state’s projected $13 billion budget shortfall is not the result of a lack of revenue, but rather that Democrats want to grow government spending by $10 billion next year. The majority party’s budget priorities are clear – sock working families with a painful tax increase to pay for more health and welfare spending and unsustainable public employee pensions, while education continues to take a massive hit. Assembly Republicans will again stand united as the last line of defense for taxpayers and will fight these reckless taxes every step of the way.”

Read more after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2011
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget, taxes | 8 Comments »

Perez, Steinberg urge review of pepper-spray use

California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, just issued this statement amid the uproar over police’s use of pepper spray against nonviolent protesters Friday at the University of California, Davis:

“I was appalled at the apparent use of excessive force by the UC Davis police force at a peaceful student demonstration.

“All Americans deserve the right to peacefully express their opinions. Nowhere is that right more sacrosanct than in the university setting. I fully support the right of the students to continue to express their frustrations and aspirations, and I call on the University to assure the safety of their student body, not only from physical harm, but from limitations of their free expression.

“It is my expectation that the university will complete a thorough review of the incidents in question and adjust police procedures accordingly.”

Yesterday, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, had said:

“On its face, this is an outrageous action for police to methodically pepper spray passive demonstrators who were exercising their right to peacefully protest at U.C. Davis. Chancellor Katehi needs to immediately investigate, publicly explain how this could happen and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”

The Davis Enterprise reported this morning that UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza has been placed on administrative leave, along with two of the officers involved in the use of pepper spray, pending a review.

UPDATE @ 12:57 P.M.: Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who as the state’s former lieutenant governor used to sit on the UC Board of Regents, is up in arms about the incident, too:

“I am appalled by the way in which students at UC Davis were treated. Campus police should know better than to cavalierly pepper spray peaceful protestors. The proud tradition of peaceful campus protests was shamelessly marred by these actions. I’m glad an investigation is underway, and I look forward to a full report on how they will avoid incidents like this in the future.

“At the same time, violent protests are never appropriate. From what I have seen, however, there was no violence on the part of the protesters at UC Davis. Indeed, by all accounts, Aggie students have shown remarkable restraint in the days following the pepper spraying. If and when protests become heated, they must be handled with the greatest discretion, so as to avoid and minimize injury to police and to demonstrators.

“Every incident of violence – no matter who the perpetrator – is a distraction from the legitimate issues that the 99% movement has raised. Our public universities have seen drastic cuts, harming our ability to stay competitive in a tough economy, and thousands of students have been priced out of an education or burdened with debts that they cannot repay. I hope the entire university community understands that we’re all in this together.”

UPDATE @ 4:48 P.M.: Lynda Gledhill, spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, noted the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department is investigating and will take what it finds to that county’s district attorney. The attorney general doesn’t usually get involved in such cases while that process under way unless asked to do so because local officials have a conflict of interests or a lack of resources.

Nonetheless, Gledhill said, “the attorney general is disturbed, she thought the incident was disturbing, and wants to follow the process and make sure the review is through. She will be monitoring that.”

Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Civil liberties, Darrell Steinberg, John Garamendi, John Perez, Kamala Harris, U.S. House | 18 Comments »

What they’re saying about the budget forecast

The Legislative Analyst’s Office today issued a fiscal forecast showing California’s state budget deficit for the fiscal year starting next July 1 will be almost $13 billion.

If the state Finance Department concurs next month, this could mean $2 billion in mid-year “trigger cuts” this year, mostly in the K-12 and higher education budgets.

From Gil Duran, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown:

“California’s budget gap is the result of a decade of poor fiscal choices and a global recession. This year, we cut the problem in half. Next year, we’ll continue to make the tough choices necessary until the problem is solved.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Today’s announcement by the LAO is indicative, but not determinative of the final decision on whether the budget triggers will be pulled next month and we must wait until the Department of Finance December forecast, which will have up to date information and certainly may alter the trigger calculation to lessen the level of trigger cuts.

“Given the uncertainty in the global economy, we included these triggers as a mechanism to ensure California’s fiscal solvency through this budget year. We approved budget solutions that eliminated seventy five percent of the ongoing structural deficit over time, and we have more work to do to accelerate the elimination of the remainder of that deficit.

“Ultimately, we all know that the best long-term solutions to our budget challenges are rebuilding our economy and putting Californians back to work, and we will continue working to build on the progress we’ve made with respect to job creation in the coming year.”

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“I am deeply troubled by this forecast and the prospect of making another round of deep cuts to public schools and higher education. The Legislature and governor should explore all of our available options, and do everything we can, to prevent mid-year cuts.

“The bottom line is our public schools and institutions of higher education are woefully underfunded, and we must find a way to reverse this trend of cutting their support if we are serious about providing Californians and their children with a bright future.”

From Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chairman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber:

“The Legislative Analyst’s Office report indicates, as predicted, that the budget passed by Democrats with only a majority vote was overly optimistic and based on shaky assumptions. In this budget, state spending is predicted to increase by 12 percent by 2012-2013. It is clear that state spending has not been brought under control, and that’s not even factoring in the enormous cost of the federal healthcare mandates.

“It indicates that a lot more needs to be done to get California’s budget under control, and that does not happen through tax increases. Government has changed very little in how it conducts its business in the last three years.”

From state Controller John Chiang:

“Today’s news is no surprise. Our economy’s sluggish growth means a tax windfall is unlikely, and not a penny of the estimated $4 billion has been collected to date. The Governor and lawmakers were smart to backstop their hopeful budget projections with mid-year cuts, but they may not have gone far enough. Today’s report tracks with the troublesome pattern we have seen in the State’s receipts and spending, which could mean a cash-flow problem in California’s near future.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Today’s numbers make it clear that the state’s first priority must be to get to the ballot in November and raise needed revenues to avoid any more damage to Californians. The notion of cutting deeper into education, public safety and services for those in need is unthinkable. I imagine an overwhelming majority of Californians agree.

“We’ve cut to the point that the results are being felt like never before. The cupboard of easy solutions is bare. Just ask the students in our higher education systems; the more than one million elderly, blind, or disabled living in poverty; the families who see their kids go to school where the classrooms are more crowded and the resources are dwindling. We’ve hit a crossroads where the time has come to turn things around.

“Democrats have tackled more than half of the reoccurring deficit problem we’ve been plagued with ever since Governor Schwarzenegger cut the Vehicle Licensing Fee. As the LAO points out, last year’s budget actions have put our ongoing deficits at the lowest we’ve seen since the recession began. By building on that foundation, new revenue will finally allow the state to recover and reinvest.”

Read more, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Ellen Corbett, Jerry Brown, John Chiang, John Perez, Mark Leno, state budget | 2 Comments »

What they’re saying about the ‘Amazon tax’ delay

Gov. Jerry Brown has just signed a compromise that puts off making online retailers like Amazon.com collect sales taxes in California for one year, giving the industry time to lobby Congress for protection.

My colleague Steve Harmon was at the signing event in San Francisco and will be filing a full report shortly, but meanwhile, we’ve got stakeholders comments pouring in.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, was among architects both of the “Amazon tax” bill passed in June and of this compromise delay, which convinced Amazon to drop its plans to spend millions on a repeal ballot initiative next year.

“The issue of eFairness is all about protecting jobs and businesses in California,” Skinner said in a news release. “AB 155 ensures a level playing field for California stores so they can keep their employees and support our communities, and it means new revenue that can be used for our schools, seniors and safety.”

“AB 155 is an historic compromise that sees online companies and brick-and-mortar retailers coming together. Businesses already face a lot of troubling uncertainties these days. AB 155 and Amazon dropping its challenge to eFairness in California takes some of that uncertainty away.”

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, also pushed hard for the tax.

“This is a classic compromise that will greatly benefit the state,” Hancock said in her news release. “For the first time, Amazon acknowledges that it is obligated to collect and remit California sales tax and that it will begin doing so, without further challenge, in September 2012. Amazon has also agreed to forgo any further attempt at a referendum and will not pursue court challenges. We now have a clear path to creating a level playing field where the state’s brick-and-mortar businesses will not be at an unfair disadvantage.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said California today “has moved forward towards achieving fairness. AB 155 closes a loophole that gives out-of-state online retailers an unfair advantage over stores in California, giving retailers time to achieve a federal solution. Overall, more jobs will ultimately be protected and created within the state.”

Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, issued a statement saying the company is grateful to Brown and the Legislature’s bipartisan leadership “for this win-win law.

“We’re excited that we now can create 10,000 jobs and cause $500 million in investment in California in addition to reinstating our California-based affiliates,” he said. “We’re committed to working with Congress, retailers and the states to pass federal legislation as soon as possible and as analysts have noted, we’ll continue to offer customers the best prices, regardless of whether sales tax is charged.”

Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, taxes | 1 Comment »

What they’re saying about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Bay Area members of Congress and California elected officials reacted with joy at today’s repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against openly gay and lesbian service members.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Today, we celebrate the end of a discriminatory era against gay and lesbian service members in America with the official repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ For too long, this failed policy unfairly denied fundamental civil liberties to highly qualified individuals who wished to serve our country. As a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, I am pleased that the tireless work of my Congressional colleagues, the Administration, and the LGBT community resulted in the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

“Although this is a remarkable step forward, we still have a long way to go to attain full equality for LGBT people. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people continue to be targets of discrimination in our policies, our laws, and our society.

“I have always said that discrimination is un-American and we, as a nation, must continue to fight for policies that bring us closer to fulfilling the principles we espouse. I encourage my constituents, my colleagues and our country to stay committed to ensuring that sexual orientation and gender-identity are no longer a cause for inequality.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“Embedded in American patriotism is the hope and expectation that our country’s best days are still to come. Today, as we celebrate the end of the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, I’m proud to say that America the country is one step closer to living up to America the idea.

“Since the founding of our great Republic, LGBT service members have selflessly fought and died in defense of our country. For too long, our country in return forced these brave heroes to live a lie in order to serve. This has led to thousands of dismissals and jeopardized national security by denying skilled Americans the opportunity to serve. As of today, this injustice is relegated to the dustbin of history – where it belongs.

“This is a day of celebration for gay and lesbian troops who can now serve openly, and for their families, who can now comfort their loved ones without fear. This is also a day of celebration for every American who believes that we must live up to our ideals. The leaders of the free world, the great defenders of democracy, should not promote policies that are discriminatory, harmful, and against the principles of a free and just society.

“Because of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, somewhere a young LGBT American is coming to the realization that the discrimination and barriers to equality they’ve grown up with are eroding. For people who have been marginalized all their lives, to know that someday soon they will no longer be excluded from their American dream can make all the difference in the world.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today, after nearly two decades of discrimination and injustice, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has officially come to an end. When this policy was put into effect, I said it was ‘just plain un-American.’ I am so grateful that equality, freedom and justice have won out over fear and prejudice. A barrier has been lifted, and our military and our nation will be stronger because of it.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, California State Senate, Gavin Newsom, John Garamendi, John Perez, Leland Yee, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 5 Comments »

Dems war over releasing Assembly spending info

Pressed to release Assembly members’ spending records, Speaker John Perez has snapped right into action and… appointed a task force.

John PerezPerez, D-Los Angeles, today named Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, to head a legislative records task force that will “review the status, rules and procedures governing legislative records.” That task force will be charged with rolling out a reform proposal by the start of next year’s session.

“I believe that updating our policies to reflect the 21st century world we live in is a vital step toward that effort,” Perez said. “How taxpayer dollars are expended is public information, and it is our job to ensure that the public has access to it. Currently, at my direction, all Assembly staff salaries are available on a publicly accessible web site, and we release audits of the Assembly budget annually.”

But at least one Democrat isn’t waiting for the task force’s recommendations.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, announced today he has introduced an amendment to the Standing Rules of the Assembly calling for all Assembly financial records to be made public.

Anthony Portantino“Californians deserve the respect of the legislature by having access to how their money is being spent,” he said in a news release. “We have used the better part of this legislative year legislating good practices in cities such as Bell and Vernon. We need to lead by example and not shroud our budgets in secrecy.”

Portantino also is looking for “fairness in budgeting for all members’ office expenses and precludes leadership from either rewarding or punishing a member for voting their conscience” – a topic that’s been on his mind lately.

“Unfortunately, leadership needs to be brought into the sunshine kicking and screaming,” he said. “Under HR20, the adoption of members’ budgets would be done in an open and public hearing instead of behind closed doors. Not only will members’ budgets be made available, but, all Assembly leadership, committee, caucuses and all administrative budgets for the Assembly will have to be disclosed in comprehensive detail. It is outrageous, unacceptable and wrong to keep the public in the dark when it comes to spending their money.”

Read the full text of Perez’ statement, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011
Under: Anthony Portantino, Assembly, John Perez, Nancy Skinner | 2 Comments »

Assemblyman claims retaliation for budget vote

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, says party leaders are slashing his legislative staff in retaliation for his recent vote against the amended state budget.

Anthony Portantino“At the close of business on Friday, I received a letter from Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, Chair of the Rules Committee,” he wrote in a news release today. “Ms. Skinner informed me that my previously-approved budget for office expenses has been slashed for the third and fourth quarters of this year. The letter further stated that ‘effective October 21, 2011 through November 30, 2011,’ my entire Capitol and District staff will be placed on leave without pay.”

“This bizarre and unprecedented action is clearly intended to punish me for my vote and to discourage other Assembly Members from performing their duties in a conscientious manner,” he continued. “I am very concerned that it will have a detrimental effect on the services for the District for which I proudly serve and I have asked Ms. Skinner to reconsider this exercise of power.”

Portantino said he was the lone Assembly Democrat to vote against the budget because he opposes further cuts to K-12 and higher education; he opposes the elimination of local redevelopment agencies, which have been useful to his district; he believes the prison realignment plan will make communities less safe and ultimately cost more; and he believes the revenue projections were too rosy.

“I knew that my vote ran counter to the wishes of the Assembly Democratic Leadership,” he wrote today. “However, I believed then, and continue to believe, that it reflected the needs and wishes of the residents of my District. To have ignored my constituents and legitimate policy priorities in order to curry favor with legislative leaders would have been an abdication of my responsibilities as an elected representative.”

He hopes Skinner will reconsider, but “if this is the price for speaking out and taking independent action, I will reluctantly have to pay it,” he finished. “The people of California will judge which of us is properly honoring our oath of office.”

Skinner’s letter (page 1, 2) actually says Portantino is spending in excess of his budget, and that his deficit will exceed $67,000 by November’s end; he has until this Friday to submit a new spending plan.

In a response today, Portantino notes all of his staffers were hired and approved by action of Skinner’s Rules Committee. He asks why he’s suddenly being deemed an over-spender, and asks when and how the committee cut his budget; whether other Assemblymembers are having their budgets cut mid-year; and whether his staffers – including “a single mother of three with a new-born child” – will lose their health insurance, too.

I’ve e-mailed Skinner’s office for a response, and will update here when I receive one.

UPDATE @ 1:12 P.M.: Haven’t heard back yet from Skinner, but I got a call a short while ago from a former legislative staffer who’s pretty steamed about this.

“California’s going to hell,” said William Schlitz, who worked as a staffer for Assembly Democrats including Barbara Lee for about 15 years and as a union lobbyist for three years before moving to Texas.

“If they want to punish him, fine,” Schlitz fumed, but it’s unforgiveable to take this out on staffers – some of whom have worked in the Legislature waaaaay longer than Skinner – whose only sin was to work for someone with whom the leadership now disagrees.

Former Speaker Willie Brown “never would’ve done this,” he said. “He knew once you went there, you’ve corrupted the system completely.”

Schlitz called Skinner a hypocrite for calling herself a workers’ champion while punishing aides for their boss’ vote, and for threatening to leave Portantino’s constituents without meaningful representation. “The fact that she would put her name on that piece of paper, ugh, she should have resigned as the Rules Committee chair first.”

UPDATE @ 1:45 P.M.: Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, just e-mailed to say this is nothing more than Portantino being unable or unwilling to keep his own office’s spending in line:

“As Mr. Portantino made clear in his own press release, his office budget is out of balance. He was told as recently as April that he needed to bring his office budget into compliance, after it was found he overspent his office budget by almost $88,000. Now his office deficit is projected to be $67,179 by November 30, 2011. The Speaker made the determination that during difficult budget times, it would be unfair to other Members to continue to subsidize Mr. Portantino beyond his office’s approved budget. The Assembly simply could not continue to cover the spending gap and subsidize Mr. Portantino’s overdrawn office account.”

UPDATE @ 2:03 P.M.: I just spoke with Nancy Skinner, who says this has absolutely nothing to do with Portantino’s vote on the state budget.

She said Rules Committees staffers do quarterly projections of Assembly members’ office expenditures and advise them when they appear to be spending too much. Portantino’s first-quarter spending was too high, she said, and so the committee verbally advised him and his chief of staff of that in March.

“There was no adjustment in the expenditures that we could tell, so at the end of April a letter was sent – notice he didn’t release that letter to you,” she said; that letter also brought no changes, and so a second letter was sent Friday after staffers made new projections after the second quarter. “We do this whenever any member’s office is projected to be severely over budget – we let them know and then we monitor and if they don’t make any adjustments, we tell us they need to and ask them to show us how they’re going to.”

Amid all sorts of painful state budget cuts this year, Portantino seems to want a dispensation to spend an extra $67,000, Skinner said; she rhetorically asked what would happen if all 80 Assembly members did so. Non-rhetorically, my calculator tells me it would be $5.36 million in added spending.

Skinner said several Assembly members were advised after the first-quarter assessment that they were overspending; all but Portantino adjusted their office budgets, and he’s the only one with a projected deficit now.

UPDATE @ 3 P.M.: Anthony Portantino just called. His comments, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Democratic politics, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget | 10 Comments »

Rhetoric-rich reactions to new state budget deal

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced a budget deal this afternoon that can be passed on simple majority, no-Republicans vote – practically a done deal with Thursday being the last day of the fiscal year. Both sides insist the state deserved far better, so let’s all assume that’s true and it’s time for Californians to assume the position.

My colleage Steve Harmon will file has filed a story on the nuts and bolts, but meanwhile, talking points are being unsheathed left and right — so, let the rhetoric fly!

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“This is a balanced budget that protects, to the greatest extent possible, California’s public education system, jobs, the economy, and our way of life. While this budget implements more than $14.6 billion in harsh and very real cuts, it also puts us on a pathway over the next 18 months to eliminate a structural deficit that’s plagued California for a decade.

“This budget is the most austere fiscal blueprint California has seen in more than a generation. Spending levels are at an historic low, and every sector of society will feel the difficult choices we’ve made to bring this budget into balance.

“Earlier this year, the Governor asked both Democrats and Republicans to get out of their comfort zones and do what was best for California. For Democrats, that meant agreeing to billions of dollars in cuts to programs that are vital to children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We delivered in March and we’re delivering again in June – with billions more in cuts, particularly if revenues fall short of projections.”

“Unfortunately, Democrats were forced to deliver alone. We used all the tools available to us under the Constitution to do just that – deliver.

“The imperative for revenue is as great as before because there is still a structural deficit looming. We will move forward through the initiative process to put the question before the voters in November of 2012.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

“Californians deserve better than the ‘Hope without Change’ budget the Democrats announced today. This latest budget is based on the hope that $4 billion in new revenues will miraculously materialize, but does absolutely nothing to change government as usual.

“The Democrats have said no to all of the Republican reforms that Californians are demanding, including pension reform, a spending cap and job creation. Californians have the right to a real bi-partisan budget solution that provides for a vibrant economy and job opportunities.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“We began this process with a commitment to make 2011 the year we stopped reacting to the Great Recession and started the difficult work of building our way out of it. The budget agreement we have reached moves us much closer to that objective. We will pass a comprehensive, on-time budget that closes the remainder of the deficit for this year, and eliminates more than 75 percent of the structural deficit going forward.”

“One of the most important aspects of this budget agreement is that it will not cause massive job losses that threaten our economic recovery. We have cast some very difficult votes, but we need to get control of our finances if we are going to be able to make the kind of long-term investments that are necessary to rebuild our shattered economy and prepare the workforce for the kinds of 21st century economy industries, like green manufacturing and biotechnology.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

“Republicans listened to the voters and stayed true to the only special interest we represent – California’s taxpayers. Despite every effort by Gov. Brown, legislative Democrats, public employee unions and other Sacramento special interests to pressure us to raise taxes by $58 billion, we honored the commitment we made to the people of California to stay out of their wallets. While Democrats may still use legally questionable maneuvers to raise taxes, the simple truth is because of Republicans’ resolve, temporary tax increases will expire this Friday and the average California family will save nearly $1,000 per year.

“Californians deserve a government that understands that money belongs to the people, not the government. While we still haven’t seen the details of the Democrats’ budget plan, our steadfast opposition to higher taxes has helped remind Sacramento tax-and-spend liberals of the need to live within our means.

“In the remaining months of the legislative year, Republicans look forward to passing badly-needed measures like pension reform to fix future state budgets. We will also continue to push our pro-jobs agenda to help the nearly 2 million unemployed Californians get back to work.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, June 27th, 2011
Under: Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, John Perez, state budget | 5 Comments »