Releases & Statements

Assembly Elects John A. Perez to be the Next Speaker of the Assembly

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(Sacramento) – This morning the California State Assembly chose John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to be the next Speaker. The timing of the transition from current Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to Speaker-elect Pérez has not yet been finalized. Links to audio of Speaker Bass and Speaker-elect Pérez are at the bottom of this e-mail.

Here are his prepared remarks he delivered at the start of the news conference that followed his election:




[important title=Transcripts]

Good Morning. I want to thank you all for coming out today, and I especially want to thank Speaker Bass for her leadership, her friendship and her confidence. She has been a steadfast leader for California, and we have been fortunate to have her guiding our state through such unprecedented challenges.

This is an historic moment for California, where we face a number of complex and difficult issues. I am both proud and humbled to have received the votes of my colleagues to serve as the 68th Speaker of the California Assembly.

In the coming weeks and months, the Legislature will be called upon again to address a number of pressing issues, not the least of which is our budget situation. The Governor outlined the magnitude of the problem yesterday in his State of the State Speech, and once again called for reform on a variety of fronts.

In that respect, I believe the Governor is correct. Our state clearly needs a number of reforms, beginning with how we manage our finances through the budget process, and certainly in the broader context of how our government is structured.

I certainly have my own ideas, but I believe that for reform to be successful, every member must participate in the process, and every idea must be on the table. We will have a thorough discussion in the Assembly, but I believe a natural starting point comes in how we negotiate the budget. I stated on the floor a few moments ago that the budget process in the Assembly will be open, honest, transparent and inclusive. When the time comes for the Big 5 meetings, I will be presenting the Assembly’s budget to the other leaders, not writing the budget in the Big 5 and presenting it to my members.

I am confident that the Assembly will produce a body of reforms this year which will help to stabilize our finances and make government more functional.

I want to thank my colleagues for their confidence and trust. I’m looking forward to a productive year.[/important]

Assemblymember Pérez’s website: http://www.asm.ca.gov/jperez

Here are links to audio of Assemblymember Pérez:

Speaker Karen Bass comments her tenure as Speaker prior to the election of John A. Pérez to be the next Speaker. (2:00) mp3

Speaker-elect John A. Pérez speaks in the Assembly after his election to be the next Speaker. (4:40) mp3

Speaker-elect Pérez's opening remarks at a news conference after his election to be the next Speaker. (1:58) mp3

Speaker-elect Pérez defines the Speaker's role as leader of the State Assembly. (:31) mp3

Speaker-elect Pérez says protecting the environment and creating jobs can go hand in hand. (:50) mp3

Contact: Sara Ramirez (916) 319-2046

Democratic Caucus Votes to Support John A. Perez as Next Speaker of California Assembly

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(Sacramento) – Today the Assembly Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to support Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to serve as the next Speaker. A floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January. After the caucus vote Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) issued the following statement:

“The Assembly Democratic caucus has made me proud many times in the past 18 months and today is one of those times. First by the high caliber of the Speaker candidates we had, especially the final two, John Pérez and Kevin de León, and second by the strength our caucus has shown in coming together and uniting behind one of those candidates, the next Speaker of the Assembly, John Pérez. Under his leadership and the continued leadership of Assemblymember De León and his supporters I look forward to another year of being made proud by my colleagues as we work to improve the quality of life for the people of California."

Assemblymember John A. Pérez thanked his Assembly colleagues for the honor:

“I want to thank the Members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus for the faith they have placed in me. It is a humbling privilege. I will work every day to justify that faith and to earn the enormous honor of having been drafted to serve as Speaker. The other candidates for Speaker, especially Assemblymember Kevin de León, have all shown great leadership for the Assembly and for this state and they have my great respect. As Speaker, I will look forward to working with a united Democratic caucus as we continue tackling our number one priority—helping the state recover from the recession and helping the California families who have been hit so hard by it.”

Assemblymember Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) added:

“Today, I was proud to stand and nominate my friend and colleague John Pérez to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly. I did so deeply thankful for the strong support and encouragement I have received from members of our caucus, and also mindful of the example of one of the great inspirations of my life and many others--Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks showed us you didn’t have to have a particular office or title to effect great change. I am proud to be a member of the California State Assembly and I will continue working hard, with my colleagues and with Speaker Pérez, to bring about real change for the people of my district and all the people of California.”

CONTACT: Shannon Murphy (916) 319-2408

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Assemblymember John A. Perez Discusses Democratic Caucus Speakership Vote

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(Sacramento) – Yesterday the Assembly Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to support Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to serve as the next Speaker of the State Assembly. Today Assemblymember Pérez spoke with the media about his selection by the Caucus to follow Karen Bass as Speaker of the California State Assembly. A floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January.

At this morning’s news conference Assemblymember Pérez began with the following statement:


[important title=Transcripts]

Good morning and thank you all for being here today.

I am honored and humbled to have received the unanimous endorsement of the Democratic Caucus to be the next Speaker of the California State Assembly.

Exactly one year ago last week, I was sworn in as the Assemblymember representing the people of the 46th District. My service began in a historic year where the Legislature was called upon to make some very difficult choices forced upon us by the global financial crisis.

I had intended to continue my service in a capacity other than Speaker, but ultimately decided to run after a significant number of my colleagues asked me to accept their draft for Speaker. California continues to face enormous challenges, and I believe that any Californian who is called to service must answer that call with enthusiasm and dedication worthy of our state.

I am grateful and humbled by the confidence of my colleagues who have asked me to shoulder the awesome responsibilities of helping guide California through these stormy times. My first, last and only consideration is to serve the People of California as we address the critical financial and structural issues facing our State.

Obviously the budget is going to be the major priority for this year, as we’re staring yet another 20 billion dollar deficit in the face. But we can’t solve the budget crisis without addressing the serious structural issues putting a stranglehold on California government. Reform needs to be central to any long term recovery, and I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues in implementing those reforms.[/important]

Assemblymember Pérez’s website: http://www.asm.ca.gov/jperez

Here are links to audio of Assemblymember Pérez:

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  • Assemblymember Pérez’s opening statement to the media. (1:46) mp3
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  • Assemblymember Pérez talks about the need to reform California’s government. (:54) mp3
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  • Assemblymember Pérez says the Race to the Top legislation approved by the Assembly yesterday puts California in the best position to receive federal education funding. (:44) mp3
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  • Assemblymember Pérez says dealing with the state’s budget woes will require an open, honest conversation where every option is on the table.(:37) mp3
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  • Assemblymember Pérez talks about how he got started in politics and what experience he brings to the office. (1:33) mp3
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  • Audio of entire news conference. (18:07) mp3
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    Contact: John Vigna  (916) 319-2046

    Assembly Majority Leader Torrico Helps Launch

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    (Sacramento) – Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico and other legislators will partner again this year with Yellow Ribbon America for the 6th annual toy drive, Operation Christmas for Our Troops and Their Families. “Operation Christmas” is part of a nationwide, non-partisan effort to show support for deployed as well as at-home military members and their families. According to the Pentagon, this is the largest holiday effort on behalf of the nation’s men and women in uniform.

    Previous “Operation Christmas” drives have collected and distributed over 350,000 items in five years. The food, bikes, DVDs, games, gift cards and other presents are donated every year to the military families. A large number of retailers, churches and community organizations participate, as do more than 200 National Guard Armories, Reserve Centers and Active Duty military installations.

    This year, starting Thursday, December 10th, Yellow Ribbon America’s “Military Santa” (Rick Sihner) and “Military Elf” Rodney Stanhope will be living in a shed in a Sacramento mall parking lot 24 hours a day for 12 days to draw attention to the toy drive and collect donations. The shed will be located in the Arden Fair Mall parking lot along Arden Way.

    “Our men and women in military deserve our appreciation for their work and the stressful situations they endure every day,” Torrico said. “The stress on their families and the time apart from loved ones is tremendous. Yellow Ribbon America and the volunteers do a great job of reaching out to them and giving as much assistance as they can.”

    Yellow Ribbon America was founded in 2003 as a nonpartisan, grassroots effort to unite all Americans in directly helping our military members and their families during wartime. Local businesses, residents, churches, and community groups focus their resources on helping families in their communities.

    Earlier this year the State Legislature honored Yellow Ribbon America with a resolution declaring the week of June 29 through July 5 as Yellow Ribbon Week. The resolution, ACR 81, was jointly authored by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) and Assembly Member Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia).

    Assembly Majority Leader Torrico’s website: www.asm.ca.gov/torrico

    [span class=media]Majority Leader Torrico says the holidays are a time to reflect on those who serve in the military.

    Majority Leader Torrico says the bi-partisanship that’s exhibited in “Operation Christmas” should be more common in the capitol.
    Majority Leader Torrico says Christmas is especially difficult for families that are separated during the holidays.{mp3remote}http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/Newsline/Audio/20091208ACR81Torrico4.mp3"> mp3
    [/span]

    Race to the Top Education Grant Process Nears Finish Line

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    (Sacramento) – The Assembly Committee on Education on Wednesday held its fourth and final informational hearing aimed at ensuring California is competitive in seeking federal “Race to the Top” education grants.

    Following the hearing, legislation to strengthen California’s application to win federal funding grants under President Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative was introduced by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education.

    “We are approaching the finish line for California’s race to the top application, but our efforts to improve our schools can’t end there,” Brownley said. “AB 8 X5 moves the goal even higher, aiming for a transformation of California’s schools that goes beyond one-time funding and builds a long-lasting environment where students and teachers – working closely with parents – can succeed and thrive.”

    Consistent with public testimony from a series of Education Committee hearings, AB 8 X5 follows recently released Race to the Top guidelines and will improve education for all California students by:

    • Identifying the persistently lowest-achieving schools, requiring them to implement one of four models for transforming to higher-achieving levels.
    • By August 2, 2010, requiring the State superintendent to develop a set of state content standards in language arts and mathematics that are internationally benchmarked, that build toward college and career readiness, and that reflect the national common core standards being developed by a national consortium of education leaders.
    • Removing the cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in the state, while requiring modest new fiscal and academic accountability standards for charter schools that are consistent with those for traditional public schools.
    • Targeting a portion of the federal RTTT funds to low-achieving schools for high-quality, targeted professional development to leverage a positive environment in schools.
    • Continuing to expand California’s data system and to use that data to improve classroom instruction and to better inform parents and the public about student progress.
    • Maximizing the amount of the new federal funding that is allocated to local education agencies.

    “California’s application for Race to the Top must be competitive so we can bring home this crucial funding for our schools,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said. “The Assembly got the facts and got the input from educational stakeholders and the public that will help us have the strongest possible application. This collaborative effort will be reflected in the legislation the Assembly will be taking up next week.”

    Assemblywoman Brownley has led four Assembly Education Committee hearings this fall, bringing together representatives of industry, teachers, administrators, parents and school boards to examine each of the reform areas states must address to compete for a portion of $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Those reform priorities include: developing great teachers and administrators, turning around struggling schools, developing common standards and assessments, and using data to improve instruction.

    Pending referral, the bill will be heard and voted on by the Assembly Education Committee for the 5th Extraordinary Session at a hearing December 9 at the State Capitol.

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  • Assemblymember Brownley's opening statement at the Assembly Education Committee’s Race to the Top hearing.

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  • Assemblymember Brownley says states were given the final Race to the Top   application guidelines in mid-November.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says California could end up receiving millions of Race   to the Top federal funds.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says the money will be used to help schools improve four   specific areas of education.
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  • Assemblymember Brownley says the Committee has heard from a wide range of people   during its series of public hearings.
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    Read more ...

    Assembly Passes Historic Comprehensive Water Package

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    (Sacramento) – On a bipartisan basis the California State Assembly today passed a historic plan to increase water supply reliability while improving the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the source of drinking water for two-thirds of the state. The plan includes both a comprehensive policy package that improves water conservation, groundwater monitoring, water rights and governance as well as a water infrastructure bond to be placed on next year’s ballot.

    “The package includes conservation and storage, groundwater protection, water rights protection, and Delta protection and represents the most significant water infrastructure and policy advances since the State Water Project in the 1960s,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said. “This is a responsible plan -- no one is getting 100% of what they want. Everyone who gets something has to give something, too.It is the only way to balance the many different individual interests for the overall greater good of having a safe and stable water supply for the entire State of California.”

    Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, and Assemblymember Anna Caballero(D-Salinas), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Local Government, worked with Speaker Bass and other leaders at the capitol to help negotiate the water package.

    “The package of water policy bills passed by the Legislature today reflects the most significant improvement in California’s water management in decades,” Huffman said. “The bills, if signed by the Governor, would set critical water conservation mandates, finally bring California more in line with other western states regarding groundwater monitoring and enforcement of water rights, and the Delta bills would provide the direction needed to resolve the 30 year gridlock over water and fisheries in the Delta. I believe these bills will significantly help to reverse the water crisis in California while also protecting and restoring the ecosystem and salmon fisheries in the Central Valley and Delta.”

    “I was honored to be part of the Speaker’s negotiating team to craft a comprehensive water package to help solve California’s water problems. We worked really hard to create a water package that will bring resources to communities hard hit by the lack of water. Additionally, the package will prioritize drought relief water projects for farmers and farm workers; helping to put people back to work and create jobs,” Caballero said.

    “This package deserves to be signed by the Governor and then the bonds need to be passed by the public,” Bass said. “It is our best hope to ensure clean, reliable water for California’s families, farms and businesses.”

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  • Speaker Bass says one of the keys to passage of the bond will be educating voters on the complex issues related to water.
    [/li] [li]Assemblymember Caballero said she believes the comprehensive water package is a great first step
    [/li] [li]Assemblymember Caballero said in an interview she expects the water package will benefit Californians for the next several generations.
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  • Assemblymember Caballero describes some of what the water package will do to improve the water situation in California.
    {mp3remote}http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/Newsline/Audio/20091104WaterCaballero3.mp3"> mp3
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    Speaker Bass, Assemblymembers Huffman and Caballero Comment on Water Package

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    (Sacramento) – Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), during a news conference at the state capitol this afternoon with Assemblymembers Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), said she’s hoping a comprehensive water solutions package can be brought to the full legislature for consideration soon. Speaker Bass says the package will be the focus of committee hearings before any floor votes are taken. And, she noted, the first informational hearing on the water package was held today by joint Senate and Assembly committee. The Speaker says the water package will include a strong conservation component, strict water rights enforcement, the creation of a Delta Stewardship Council and a multi-billion dollar bond package to pay for desperately needed infrastructure improvements and delta restoration.

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  • Speaker Bass’ opening remarks to media at this afternoon’s news conference.
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  • Assemblymember Caballero’s opening remarks at this afternoon’s news conference.
    {mp3remote}http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/Newsline/Audio/20091026WaterCaballero.mp3"> mp3
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    Nava Introduces Oil Industry Fair Share Act in California

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    (Sacramento)Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) announced today the introduction of The Oil Industry Fair Share Act, AB 6x1. The legislation will establish an oil severance tax of 10% on the gross value of each barrel of crude oil pumped by companies in California. This tax will provide approximately $1.5 billion in additional revenue to the General Fund. These desperately needed dollars could be used for public safety, education, health programs for children, human services, and other vital programs.

    “California oil companies are getting a free ride. California is the only major oil producing state that does not charge a severance tax on oil extraction. It is time for California to catch up with Alaska, Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas. We need to collect the people’s share of this potential revenue source by forcing Big Oil to pay its fair share,” said Nava. “California has been giving away public assets to Big Oil for far too long.”

    Nava was joined earlier in the day by school employees, seniors, healthcare provders, organized labor, and environmentalists at a Capitol news conference announcing the introduction of the bill. California is experiencing unprecedented budget shortfalls. Schools, universities, health programs, public safety, state parks, and various other aspects of the government have faced severe cuts. While unemployment has skyrocketed, oil companies in California are anticipating increased profits from rising oil prices.

    These budget cuts have affected the most vulnerable citizens.

    - “With $18 billion in cuts to education, this could be an important source of revenue to save important services for our students,” said Jai Sookprasert, the tax policy analyst for the California School Employees Association.

    - “Seniors have borne the brunt of these draconian budget cuts; we have seen a reduction in adult day health care programs that allow seniors to stay in their homes, the elimination of Alzheimer’s research, and aid to low-income seniors has been slashed,” said Gary Passmore of the Congress of California Seniors. “The Fair Share Act will bring much needed revenues to support these essential programs.”

    - “Recent budget cuts are harming nurses’ ability to provide for the critical health needs of people in our state,” said Elizabeth Pataki, RN, of the California Nurses Association. “An oil severance tax could provide much needed revenue to help pay for Californians’ healthcare needs.”

    - “The last round of budget cuts has affected every Californian,” said Willie Pelote of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. “We are dismantling programs and need to ensure that sufficient revenue is available to mitigate the State’s fiscal crisis.”

    - “Oil companies have been making enormous profits while depleting finite natural resources and polluting the environment,” said Gina Goodhill of Environment California. “It is time they pay their fair share.”

    State Legislature Begins Major Reform Effort

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    (Sacramento) – Today the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government held the first in a series of joint hearings. Senate Chair Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Assembly Chair Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) led the discussion on legislative branch and budget process reforms.

    “State government needs a new blueprint based on best ideas here and across the nation. It needs to focus on our state’s top priorities, reflect innovative and long-term thinking, and encourage bipartisanship,” said Feuer. “Ultimately, this reform effort is about creating the conditions for California government to succeed.”

    “We’re going to deliver meaningful and immediate suggestions to the Legislature as we work toward better serving the citizens of California,” said DeSaulnier.

    Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass formed the bipartisan select committees in September to address the pressing need for state governmental reform and evaluate major reform proposals. To accomplish this ambitious effort, the committees will jointly host five hearings at various locations throughout the state, taking on topics including ballot box budgeting and initiative process reforms, legislative oversight of state government agencies, and relationships between state and local governments. The committees’ work will culminate with the introduction of reform legislation when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

    “State government needs to be more transparent, efficient and effective,” said Speaker Bass. “Today’s hearing is the first step in the process toward reforming our system of government and making it work better for the people of California.”

    “Those of us inside the Capitol are quite familiar with state government’s systemic problems. If the current system isn’t working for us, then it isn’t working for Californians. That has got to change,” said President pro Tempore Steinberg.

    Panelists at the first hearing represented elected offices, policy think-tanks, academic institutions and media outlets. Current and former elected officials weighed in on areas of improvement to the Legislature, among them State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former Assembly Republican leader Robert Naylor and Inspector General Laura Chick.

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  • Assemblymember Feuer’s opening remarks at today’s hearing.
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  • Assemblymember Feuer says its clear state government needs to be transformed.
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  • Assemblymember Feuer says the committee is looking for concrete results that make California government more efficient, transparent and customer friendly.
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  • Assemblymember Feuer says everyone on the committee is dedicated to finding the common ground needed to forge real solutions.
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