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August 2017 Essential Politics archives

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California Legislature

California Assembly Speaker: Housing spending this year is more important than water and parks

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) (Gary Coronado / Associated Press)
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) (Gary Coronado / Associated Press)

With Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers debating billions in new spending for a variety of projects on the 2018 ballot, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said low-income housing will be the highest priority.

Brown is supporting bonds on the 2018 ballot that would finance new homes for low-income residents and those that would improve water and parks infrastructure. But the dollar amounts for each measure haven't been settled. 

"We’re going to negotiate for as high as we possibly can on housing," Rendon said Thursday in a conference call with the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. "We think it’s a more critical need."

The housing proposal now pending in the Legislature calls for a $3-billion bond, but State Treasurer John Chiang joined Rendon on the conference call to argue for one as high as $9 billion. While a larger bond would lead to the construction of more homes, the state would still fall far short of the new home building needed to combat its housing affordability crisis.

Last month, Brown, Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León agreed to a housing bond and other legislation designed to ease housing problems. Rendon sounded less confident about the passage of another part of the housing package: a proposal to charge $75 on mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions. The fee would raise about $250 million a year and go toward building low-income housing.

That legislation, Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), requires two-thirds supermajority votes in both houses of the Legislature. Both moderate and liberal Democrats in the Assembly have raised red flags about increasing fees on homeowners.

Rendon said it was difficult to predict how the vote would pan out.

"A two-thirds vote is obviously always a very big lift," he said. "In general, the members know that housing is a basic human need."

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