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California

Assemblyman’s staff won’t be furloughed after all

Reporting from Sacramento -- Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is declaring victory in his long-running feud with Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), trumpeting news Tuesday that his staff will not be furloughed as the speaker had previously threatened.

“I’m ecstatic for my staff and my district,” Portantino said.

In July, Pérez declared Portantino a profligate spender and slashed his office budget, saying he would place the lawmaker’s staff on unpaid leave beginning this month if the lawmaker did not bring his spending into line. Portantino denied the accusation, alleging that he was being punished for being the only Assembly Democrat to vote against the state budget in June.

On Tuesday, neither party could agree on what happened. Pérez’s office said the furloughs aren’t necessary because two of Portantino’s staffers departed and two took leaves of absence. Pérez spokeswoman Robin Swanson said the “overspending” issue was not resolved “through anything Portantino has done.”

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Trent Hager, Portantino’s chief of staff, said Pérez transferred one staff member to his own district office and moved another to an Assembly committee. Another staffer left voluntarily. And Hager, reached on his cellphone, said he is on medical leave because of stress related to the months-long fight.

Meanwhile, Portantino vowed to press his fight for government transparency, calling for complete disclosure of lawmakers’ office budgets.

Several newspapers, including The Times, have gone to court to challenge the Legislature’s refusal to turn over records showing how the leadership doles out taxpayer resources to the rank and file.

michael.mishak@latimes.com


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