Assembly speaker downplays new powers, vows no new taxes
While Democrats and their allies spent Wednesday crowing about clinching supermajorities in both houses of the Legislative for the first time in more than a century, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) downplayed the development as little more than an "interesting moment" for his caucus.
At an afternoon press conference, Pérez said he was confident that current election results would hold -- but insisted that the new power would not change the way the Assembly does business. He said Democrats would not pursue taxes.
“Having the ability to do something and having that as your priority, your interest, your motivation are two completely different things,” Pérez said.
The speaker said Gov. Jerry Brown had set the tone of fiscal restraint in his gubernatorial campaign two years ago and that lawmakers would operate accordingly.
“The governor’s been very clear that the only way to do taxes as long as he’s governor is through a direct vote of the people," Pérez said. “We’re not looking to figure out new ways to do things that we’ve said we’re not going to do.”
Pérez did, however, pledge to revive his proposal to create new university scholarships for middle-class Californians. The legislation, which would have eliminated a corporate tax break to pay for the program, died in the state Senate this year. Proposition 39, which passed in Tuesday's election, closed that tax loophole and splits the new money between a new green building program and the state’s general fund.
On Wednesday, the speaker declined to provide specifics or say whether new legislation means new revenue.
"The issue of college affordability is huge," Pérez said. "There are many ways to deal with middle-class scholarships and we're going to look at them."ALSO:
Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D–Los Angeles), right, and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D–Sacramento) discuss the state budget at the Capitol in June. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press