Skelton: Pérez lays out budget plans

Skelton: Pérez lays out budget plans
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), left, and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) confer at the Capitol in May 2011. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

When Democrats took control of two-thirds of the California Legislature -- allowing them to raise taxes without Republican support -- the buzzword became "overreach." Political observers wanted to know if Democrats would lose public support by pushing new spending and revenue measures.

George Skelton writes in Monday's column that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) says his party will still keep a tight grip on the state's purse strings.

"It shouldn't—but it may—surprise folks that Democrats with our supermajority will be looking to build on the fiscal responsibility that we've shown the last couple of years," Pérez said.

The speaker gave Skelton a glimpse of his hopes for the state budget, which include a new ballot measure to strengthen California's rainy-day fund. The current reserve is empty, and it's easy to avoid paying into it.

Pérez also wants to use roughly $450 million in new tax money, which voters already approved in November as part of Proposition 39, to create college scholarships for middle-class students.

"Pérez is preaching a practical and responsible budget," Skelton writes. "He's pledging fiscal restraint by Democrats. It will be interesting to see how they act."