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Senate Republicans install Jean Fuller as their new leader

Senate Republicans install Jean Fuller as their new leader
State Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) speaks with Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) during a break in a Rules Committee meeting at the Capitol on March 20, 2013. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

In an earlier-than-expected move with just two weeks left in the legislative session, state Senate Republicans on Thursday replaced Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas as their leader, with Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield taking over the post.

Fuller immediately signaled a hard-line position on Democrats' proposals for tax and fee increases to improve California roads and healthcare, saying the state should tap its surplus and efficiencies before asking residents to pay more.

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"Republicans do not raise taxes," she told reporters. "For the hardworking families and others in California, it's really not fair to ask them to pay more. It is important not to raise taxes on hardworking families."

Some Capitol insiders said there was disagreement among Republicans about how to pay for much-needed road repairs. Huff had suggested tapping revenue from the state’s controversial cap-and-trade program to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Asked about that proposal, Fuller said that "our caucus position has been all along that we want to use transportation money that exists more efficiently and we want to be able to take the money that was originally proposed to go to transportation and make sure that stream of money is used first. We also believe there are many efficiencies in state government that haven't been talked about."

The Republican caucus had previously agreed that Fuller would take over from Huff in October. Asked why the transition was moved up, Fuller said Huff will be busy with his campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and that she can focus on the legislative session as well as the task of electing more Republicans to the Senate in 2016.

"We have a lot to do. Sen. Huff is running for the L.A. Board of Supervisors and he has a lot to do," Fuller said. "This way we can move forward."

Last Spring, Huff moved just outside his Senate District to a home in San Dimas that would allow him to run for the Board of Supervisors.

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