Political Landscape: Huff plans to hold the line

Last time a California governor asked voters for a tax increase, Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) offered his support. That won’t be the case this time.

Huff, whose district includes the Montrose Shopping Park and parts of La Crescenta, said this week that Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats will have to go further with legislative reforms and budget cuts if they are to get the five Republican votes needed in the state Legislature to put a tax measure on the June ballot.

In his State of the State speech Monday, Brown outlined a plan to deal with the state’s $25.4-billion budget deficit by cutting $12.5 billion and getting about as much from an extension of temporary sales, income and vehicle taxes first imposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.

“I don’t see the votes there now,” Huff said. “If the governor and the Democratic Party can show some true reforms and be credible about it, those votes might be there.”

But, he added, “I won’t be one of those. In my district, when people communicate with me, they want me to hold the line.”

Huff wants to see more spending cuts, and reforms including removal of “sole source, noncompetitive” rules locking in public union jobs for services such as driving school buses or preparing food in state facilities.

Huff said he appreciates the governor’s effort to work with Republicans, but said the 40 Republicans in the state Legislature need to use ongoing budget negotiations to force changes in state policy.

“We’d be missing a golden opportunity if we do not wrestle this budget to the ground,” he said.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), whose district overlaps Huff’s, is unsure if the governor will get the votes, but said Brown is making headway toward getting the tax measure to the ballot.

“I think the governor’s been doing a very good job of winning the public’s trust, and that’s the key to generating legislative support in a bipartisan way,” he said. “With the former governor, we used to have this bunker mentality, where the king was holed up in his bunker and very few people were allowed in. Governor Brown is in the hallways, he’s at the receptions, in members’ offices. He’s extremely approachable. It’s a whole new Capitol.”

Sherman targets succession act

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) plans to seek changes in the law governing succession to the White House should the president die in office. In a recent article Sherman wrote for the Washington, D.C., publication Roll Call, the Democrat whose district includes part of Burbank said he will seek changes to the Presidential Succession Act, signed by President Truman in 1947.

Under the law, the first in line to take over the presidency is the vice president, then the speaker of the House, then the Senate president pro tem. Concerned that a person not of the president’s party could create a “radical shift” in policy, Sherman wants the president to be able to choose his possible successors from among the three top House and Senate leaders.

Sherman also seeks to add the United States ambassador to the United Nations or other ambassadors to the succession list, since those officials live outside Washington, D.C., and would not be affected should a catastrophe strike the nation’s capital.

Sherman said he plans to introduce his legislation later this year.

Portantino named to film commission

Assembly Speaker John Perez this week named Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) to the California Film Commission. The 21-person board advises the agency that facilitates film production in the state and oversees a tax-credit program for small and mid-sized film projects if they stay within the Golden State.

Portantino knows his way around the film business. Before launching his political career with election to the La Cañada City Council, he was a location manager on various films, art director for the television show “Unsolved Mysteries” and producer of a few films.

Portantino lauded the tax credit program initiated under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“It has measurability, accountability, and we know it is effective because productions happen,” Portantino said. “That shows there is a role for the state to play in making sure California continues to be film-friendly.”

Assemblyman urges fellowship applicants

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is urging those with an interest in politics or public service to apply for the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program. Eighteen candidates from around the state will be chosen to serve 11-month internships with a member of the Assembly, earning nearly $2,000 a month plus medical benefits.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and be at least 20 years old. Graduate students and mid-career professionals may apply, according to Portantino’s office. The application deadline is Feb. 23. For more information, visit www.csus.edu/calst/assembly or call Portantino’s district office at (626) 577-9944.

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