Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) joined two other state lawmakers to introduce a measure that would begin the process of nullifying the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision that created “super PACs,” which have flooded unlimited corporate money into federal campaigns.
The process would include amending the U.S. Constitution to deal with Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, in which the divided Supreme Court held that corporations are due the same free-speech rights as individuals.
“I figured rather than just condemning the decision with a symbolic resolution, why not start the process to actually amend the Constitution?” Gatto said in a statement. “Voters are fed up with the notion that money is speech, and that big money can drown out the speech of average citizens.”
The joint legislation features a rarely used process for amending the Constitution, which typically requires a two-thirds approval by Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states.
The proposed measure, called AJR 32, would use a procedure outlined in an Article V of the Constitution under which states can demand that Congress enact an amendment. If two-thirds of states make the demand, Congress must call a constitutional convention on the matter.
Several states have already passed informal resolutions condemning the decision on Citizens United, Gatto said.
-- Mark Kellam
Schiff: Budget doesn't meet test
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Tuesday blasted the new Republican proposal for the federal budget. The proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), chair of the House Budget Committee, calls for income tax reductions and steep cuts in the Medicare program.
“Paul Ryan today introduced a budget that does not meet the basic test of fairness. His plan would continue to expand tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while essentially turning Medicare into a voucher program,” Schiff said in a statement.
“I have long championed the need to balance our budget and pay down our debt, and will continue to do so. But when Ryan's budget comes up for a vote later this year, I will be a no vote,” Schiff said.
-- Bill Kisliuk
Liu paints bleak budget picture
State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) appeared Monday before the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and painted a bleak picture of California's finances.
In her annual State of the State talk, Liu — a former La Cañada city councilwoman — said a lack of tax revenues has led to an expected state budget shortfall of $10 billion to $12 billion for next year. She said the budget crunch will lead to cuts in services, primarily in public education.
“I know you are concerned with the drastic cuts to our public schools and local government that you have endured over the last couple of years,” she said. “And it breaks my heart, as a former school teacher … it was a hard decision to vote for these cuts.”
In recent years the state has tried to address a structural debt, meaning the state routinely spends more than it takes in, while tackling an annual budget deficit that once topped $26 billion.
Liu said Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to raise $4.9 billion for education with a tax initiative this fall. Whether or not the measure passes, she said, the state needs to alter its revenue stream and set tough spending priorities.
“The California budget is fundamentally broken,” she said. “Relying on income tax and capital gains tax has left the state vulnerable to swings in the economy. We need to look for long-term solutions that will buffer the state from economic swings.”
Public education has been one of Liu's top issues since entering the Legislature. She said she will continue to work to improve schools.
“I don't believe passing new laws is the only way to get things done. In fact, there are probably too many laws on the books, and they pose obstacles to innovation and positive change,” she said. “My agenda this year includes continually looking at K-12 governance and bringing greater accountability to the higher education system.”
Councilman David Spence told Liu that the city is happy to work with her, albeit with a caveat.
“We'll be here to support [you] — probably not to raise taxes — but with any other issues you want our help on,” he said.
-- Daniel Siegal
Democratic club elects president
Larry Nemecek was recently reelected as president of the Burbank Democratic Club. Bridget McCann was elected first vice president, Shanna Ingalsebee as second vice president, David Dobson as secretary and Ken Ahearn as treasurer.
The club will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the McCambridge Park Rec Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank.
At the meeting, two propositions on the June ballot will be discussed. One is Proposition 28, which would reduce term limits for state legislators, and Proposition 29, a cigarette tax to fund cancer research.
For more information, call (818) 515-5908, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Mark Kellam
Sherman to hold town hall next month
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who represents a portion of western Burbank, will hold a town hall meeting from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on April 1 at Birmingham High School, 17000 Haynes St., Van Nuys.
For more information, visit bradsherman.house.gov.
-- Mark Kellam