Takasugi Not Sure He Backs Wilson Plan to Cut Local Aid


Republican Assemblyman Nao Takasugi, a former mayor who now represents cities from Thousand Oaks to Oxnard in the Legislature, faces the dilemma of remaining faithful to local governments or demonstrating loyalty to his party leaders who want to slash aid to cities and counties.

As of Friday, the 70-year-old freshman assemblyman confessed he was unsure whether he would support Republican Gov. Pete Wilson’s proposal to balance the state’s budget by cutting $2.6 billion in state aid to local jurisdictions.

“Local government is very much against the wall. They have had to cut, cut, cut each year,” said Takasugi, who recently stepped down as the longtime mayor of Oxnard. “But the mood of the people is against new taxes. What we need to see is the whole picture.”


Takasugi predicted a grim year for local governments no matter how the state budget debate is settled. He made his remarks during a press conference in Camarillo to review his first 100 days in Sacramento.

Saying he has introduced 15 bills this session, Takasugi said he was pleased his first bill--to allow an employee to take time off instead of receiving overtime pay--cleared its first committee hurdle with bipartisan support.

And Takasugi said he is gratified that a number of bills to reform the state’s workers’ compensation laws are nearing a final vote. He also vowed to support measures to reduce the red tape faced by business in California.

While voicing support for Wilson’s stand against extending a half-cent sales tax, Takasugi said he favors traditionally Democratic-backed bills that would allow school bonds to be adopted by a mere plurality vote, instead of the two-thirds majority now required.

But Takasugi declined to say whether he would support Wilson’s proposed shift of $2.6 billion in property taxes from city and county governments to local schools, the governor’s strategy to help solve the state’s expected budget deficit.

“Several months ago, I was one of those local officials pleading for no cuts to the cities,” Takasugi said of the $1.5 billion in property taxes withheld from the state’s cities and counties last year. “Now, I’m on the other side of the fence wielding a pair of scissors.”


Takasugi stopped short of backing the governor’s call to take $2.6 billion away from local governments, but said his decision would be tempered by his 16 years of experience as an Oxnard city councilman and mayor. “I will try to be sensitive and make sure the cuts are not as severe as some are predicting,” he said.

Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, who served with Takasugi on the City Council until Takasugi’s election last November, expressed hope Friday that Takasugi would remain an ally despite the need to remain loyal to a Republican governor.

“As of November, he was one of us,” Lopez said. “Although I recognize he will be under a lot of pressure to vote a certain way, he can sway other people in his party (on our behalf) because of his recent experience in local government.”

But Lopez expressed disappointment in Takasugi’s opposition to the half-cent sales tax, which accounts for about $1.5 billion in annual revenues. “If the budget deficit turns out to be $10 billion, the only practical thing would be to retain the sales tax,” Lopez said.

Thousand Oaks Mayor Judy Lazar said she too hopes Takasugi will remember the struggles of local government.

“I hope Nao would be supporting of local government because he comes from it,” Lazar said. “The whole principle of balancing the state budget on the backs of local government is abhorrent to me.”


In other remarks Friday, Takasugi said he supported the passage of school bond measures by a simple majority vote rather than the two-thirds presently required. Takasugi said he is also willing to study whether special districts should be able to pass bond measures by a simple majority vote.

And Takasugi also indicated his support for a multi-year approach to the state budget, citing the flexibility a two-year budget provided Oxnard.

While denying reports that he plans to serve just one term, Takasugi said he was bewildered by the level of partisanship he found in Sacramento.

“It’s rather appalling to see how bitter party politics can be up there,” Takasugi said. “Sometimes it doesn’t allow legislation to go forward. But every day I’m there I am learning who the players are and the dynamics between the players.”