Assembly speaker abandons push for tax deal
In the end, Assembly Speaker John Pérez couldn’t make everyone happy.
He worked furiously throughout the day Friday to lure GOP lawmakers to support his signature university scholarship legislation. With less than 90 minutes left in this year’s legislative session, he called it quits.
The scholarships were to be funded by closing what the speaker says is a tax loophole that is costing California $1 billion per year. But anti-tax GOP lawmakers resisted the bill, AB 1500. So the speaker tried to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Legislative staff spent the day Friday modifying the bill to make it suitable to Republicans. The altered proposal would have exempted tobacco giant Altria from the tax hike, as well as other big corporations. It would have restored the state’s Healthy Families healthcare program for low income children, which was eliminated in the budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this summer.The bill ultimately became what is known around the Capitol as a “Christmas tree.” But as ornaments were added, some of the original backers of the bill grew increasingly uncomfortable. Not all Democrats were eager to explain to voters a break to big tobacco, for example. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, were demanding even more concessions. Time ran out.
-- Evan Halper and Anthony York in Sacramento