Assembly speaker outlines budget plans

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) discussed the state budget at a lunch held by the Sacramento Press Club on Wednesday.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown won’t unveil his revised budget plan until next week, but Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez detailed some of his own ideas Wednesday.

Pérez (D-Los Angeles) wants to increase state-subsidized employment for welfare recipients to put more people back to work, help the federal government process veterans’ benefits faster and cut college costs for students from middle-class families. He also outlined a ballot measure intended to strengthen the state’s rainy day fund and make it easier to save money.

The proposals, a mix of old and new, were developed with the rest of the Assembly Democratic caucus. Pérez’s speech to the Sacramento Press Club was also an opportunity to celebrate recent improvements in California’s finances, with tax revenue exceeding expectations by $4.5 billion in the current fiscal year.


“As the recovery continues to strengthen, we must pivot from ending the crisis to building for the future,” Pérez said. “That requires a responsible approach that avoids the mistakes of the past.”

When it comes to education funding, Pérez indicated that Assembly Democrats are more in tune with their Senate counterparts than Brown.

The governor has proposed a new school funding formula that would distribute state money based on how many poor students and English learners are in each district. But Democratic lawmakers are concerned that will overlook disadvantaged students in otherwise wealthy districts.

Pérez also said he wants stricter oversight and more money for the state court system. Although he did not cite a specific number, the mere mention of additional funding was eagerly greeted by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

“I applaud the speaker’s leadership in articulating the need to begin reinvesting in the courts,” she said in a statement. “His knowledge and understanding of the equal access to justice issues are a great benefit to all Californians.”


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Twitter: @chrismegerian