California's next Assembly speaker vows to reduce Governor’s influence over budget

California Assembly Speaker John A Pérez (D-LA)
California Assembly Speaker John A Pérez (D-LA)
Assemblymember John A. Perez Web site

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The California Assembly voted in a new speaker today. Los Angeles Democratic Assemblyman John Perez plans to reform the way California passes the budget each year. KPCC’s state capital reporter Julie Small has more.

Assembly Speaker-elect John Perez said it used to be that the legislature would solve most of the budget issues through hearings and debates.

Legislative leaders would only convene “Big 5” negotiations with the Governor if they got stuck on a few issues.

"In the last several years, it’s been turned on its head," Perez said "and everything is tried to be negotiated out in the “Big 5” with the expectation that the legislative leaders of both parties would then bring everybody — without having had the benefit of deliberate process — to vote for it. That is not the way the founders anticipated our government to work."

Perez told Assembly members that he’ll take their budget to the Governor this year — not the other way around. The new Speaker figures that could reduce the Governor’s influence on the budget process.

But the Governor’s press secretary Aaron McLear shrugged at that:

"We never get bogged down in process. We’re about getting the job done."

Mclear says, "If the legislature has some sort of process they need to go through, don’t wait until May or June as they have in the past to get started. We completely agree with Perez: let’s get started immediately on this budget. The legislature has not done that in the past. We hope this year is going to be different. "

Last year, the legislature did close a $40 billion deficit in less than three months. But a plunge in state revenue and a jump in costs for state programs opened up a fresh $20 billion dollar hole. It took many months to plug that one — and many “Big 5” meetings.