Capitol Veteran Named Department of Finance Chief Deputy
Cynthia Bryant was named to the post by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on January 19.
She has been part of the Schwarzengger administration since its inception in late 2003, first as a legislative secretary — lobbyist — for the GOP governor and, since 2006, head of the Office of Planning and Research, which Schwarzenegger proposed for elimination in last year’s budget as well as his current spending plan.
Most recently Bryant, 51, has directed California’s Recovery Task Force, which rides shotgun over the billions of dollars in federal economic stimulus funds flowing to the state.
“As my deputy chief of staff and director of the California Recovery Task Force, Cynthia has been instrumental in getting billions of dollars to Californians during the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
“I know she will bring that same level of commitment to her new position as chief deputy director of finance, playing an absolutely crucial role in making the tough decisions necessary to navigate our state through a $20 billion deficit.”
Traditionally, Finance’s chief deputy represents the director and the administration on numerous state boards and commissions. Among the more significant ones is the three-member State Lands Commission which makes decisions about offshore drilling, among other things.
The GOP governor’s budget proposes an expansion of drilling at Tranquillon Ridge off Santa Barbara, which cannot occur without two members of commission supporting the proposal. State Controller John Chiang and the lieutenant governor, which is currently vacant, are the other two members. Both Chiang and Schwarzenegger’s nominee for lieutenant governor, GOP Sen. Abel Maldonado, have said they oppose the expansion.
Bryant, a dim sum afficionado, will also represent the Schwarzenegger administration on the boards of the Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System.
Prior to joining the Schwarzenegger administration, Bryant directed the Senate Republican Office of Policy and was lead policy advisor to the Senate Republican Caucus. She has an extensive knowledge of numerous policy issues, gambling in particular, and an arid sense of humor.
As a legislative secretary Bryant and her colleague, Moira Topp, were principal negotiators in a 2004 overhaul of the state’s workers compensation system, one of Schwarzenegger’s more significant accomplishments.
Former Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton, a San Francisco Democrat, dubbed Topp and Bryant “Thelma and Louise.”
Topp was Thelma. As she likes to joke: “Taller, younger.”
The chief deputy job pays $147,900 and is not subject to Senate confirmation.
Herb Schultz, 47, of West Hollywood, a senior advisor to Schwarzenegger, replaces Bryant as head of the Recovery Task Force. Schultz helped negotiate the governor’s abortive overhaul of the state’s health care system.
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