The hole in California's pocket topped concerns discussed Monday by Democrat state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino during his annual State of the State address to the La Canada Flintridge City Council, but he also found positive news to report.
Near the end of his second term in Sacramento, Portantino touted bills signed into law this year that brought tax relief to property owners affected by mudslides, created a statewide umbilical cord blood bank and gave immunity to teenagers who formerly risked arrest by reporting health emergencies associated with underage drinking.
But it's on what hasn't gotten done — at least not yet — that Portantino said his sights are focused.
"We cannot continue to lack priorities, and we cannot continue deficit situations. Budget reform is the single biggest issue," he said, pledging continued support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would require identification of funding sources before state expenditures are approved.
Recalling his opposition last year to state raiding of gas tax funds — a move that would have cost the city some $800,000 and that he helped block — Portantino said there was a need to be vigilant about state seizure of revenues intended for cities. The former La Cañada Flintridge city councilman urged support for Proposition 22, which would limit state authority to take or borrow from funds earmarked for local governments.
Also worried to preserve education spending, Portantino plans to reintroduce a failed bill that would for two years freeze state salaries and bonuses for government workers making more than $150,000 per year.
"In the Cal State system there are 800 people who would qualify, and at the same time that we're raising fees on students and making it harder for them to go to school we shouldn't be giving those folks, in some cases, 18% pay raises," he said.