California’s Next Assembly Speaker Meets With Reporters

John Perez, the unanimous choice of the Democratic majority to be the next speaker of the Assembly met with reporters December 11 and said increasing taxes should be considered as part of a solution to the state’s $20 billion-plus budget shortfall.

Perez, 40, would become California’s first openly gay Assembly speaker when he takes office some time in 2010.

“I think it will happen sooner than later,” Perez said of succeeding current speaker Karen Bass, also a Los Angeles Democrat.

Answering questions carefully and diplomatically, Perez echoed Democratic themes.

Would he support suspending AB 32, the landmark measure aimed at reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020?

No. He said he’s seen no evidence the measure is a “true impediment” to economic growth and that environmental stewardship and a good business climate are not mutually exclusive.

Would he re-open negotiations over the “pork-laden” $11 billion water bond approved by lawmakers last month?

“I don’t think it’s pork-laden,” Perez said.  Improving the state’s water delivery system has “been on the table 45 years,” he said, and, consequently, there are “a lot of pockets that need attention.”

Rather than re-opening the issue, Perez said, “We don’t want to make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

As to resolving the $20 billion budget shortfall, Perez said, “Everything has to be on the table,” including tax increases.

He acknowledged the difficulty in approving those tax increases, given the ability of Republicans to prevent Democrats from reaching the two-thirds majority needed to approve them.

Perez, the former political director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324, said that part of the budget solution should include “much needed reforms.”

While he said he didn’t have any specific reforms he wanted to endorse he did support lowering the approval threshold for a budget from two-thirds to s simple majority.

“We need to have transparency in government,” Perez said, in defense of a majority vote on budgets.

As a union officer, Perez said he learned how to “balance the interests of businesses and workers.”

The first term Assemblyman said he was “honored and humbled” by his caucus’ selection of him as the next speaker.

And while he did not initially seek the job, he said his colleagues drafted him because the “only way to get out of this crisis is a collaborative leadership style.”

Of the speakership, Perez said:

“My job is to help bring people together and to leverage their ideas.”


Filed under: News


  1. Quick, somebody hold my hair…

    Comment by NoOneInParticular — 12.11.2009 @ 2:51 pm

  2. Democrat themes? Raise taxes? Leave the pork? What a surprise!

    Comment by Curmudgeon46 — 12.11.2009 @ 3:12 pm

  3. What is this guy thinking; does he really think the voters support new or higher taxes? There are some services voters will support, but not a carte blanche tax increase to continue the same old programs without a serious look at reductions that can be achieved. Until the voters feel that the state representatives have taken a careful pruning of the state’s operations will they be supportive of new taxes. If taxes are raised on the wealthy which seems a popular theme, we’ll be chasing the golden goose out of the state and exacerbating our problems even further when the economy does rebound. I’m afraid it is going to have to get much worse before things get better. Sadly we may be heading the direction of Michigan and other states in eternal budget freeze with legislators that only know one way to fix the problems, raise taxes.

    Here’s one idea that has merit, but no one with guts to propose it. We need to merge local governments by fiat. Set up a Base Realignment And Closure type process (one vote up or down for the whole thing) on the consolidation of cities, counties, school districts, and special districts. That in and of itself won’t save money immediately, but over the long term we’ll have less overhead and more money put to services. Appoint local government representatives to develop the plan, but require that we have xxx fewer local governments by xxx date, similar to what has been done in other countries.

    Comment by Jack Johnson — 12.11.2009 @ 4:35 pm

  4. What a surprise the speaker to be will get when he learns to read the news about how business is being courted by other states and that some of them are moving and taking their jobs with them. Bar-Sto gun barrels is packing up 30 jobs and taking them to South Dakota. Read the reason for leaving below:

    Pistol barrel maker Bar-Sto has announced it will relocate operations from Twentynine Palms, Calif. to Sturgis, SD during the first part of 2010. “The differences in the tax climates between California and South Dakota are night and day,” said Irv Stone, second-generation owner of Bar-Sto.

    I wonder if they will keep paying union dues and taxes in California after they leave.

    Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights.

    Comment by Management Slug — 12.11.2009 @ 5:12 pm

  5. Now if we could prevent the importation of those pistol barrels into California we might be getting somewhere.

    Comment by John Kern — 12.12.2009 @ 1:53 am

  6. What a sad bunch of nettering nabobs of negativism! As I have stated on this very site previously, “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.” So why throw-in the towel now when there are no obvious solutions to fix our problems.

    John Perez is to be commended for stepping into the breach and trying to make positive changes. Having said that, what was he thinking? Like previous speakers, someone has to be in charge of the furniture, balls and jump ropes. The only explanation I can think of is that Perez is a devout Cal fan and believes dreams can come true.

    On behalf of the Third House, I congratulate you and wish you the best in this exciting opportunity.

    Comment by Jim Cassie — 12.12.2009 @ 9:34 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment