The swearing-in of new legislators is usually a party atmosphere. Lawmakers feel celebratory after long campaigns. Yesterday’s swearing-in was not a disappointment however, along with the celebratory mood, there was an air of fantasy and fairy tale.
This is the largest freshman class, with 39 newly elected lawmakers, since 1966.
Perhaps the party mood was because of the new Democratic supermajority. While Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg insists that Democrats will not go hog wild with their unobstructed power, not everyone believes that. “I just don’t think we should come hurtling out of the gates talking about a bunch of new taxes,” Steinberg told media Monday.
“It’s in their DNA,” one Capitol staffer told me, but asked to remain anonymous. “It would go completely against everything they stand for. They can’t help themselves.”
Fractured fairy tales
When it came time to nominate the Assembly Speaker, the Capitol sergeants should have handed out airsick bags.
Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Humbolt, nominated current Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles. Chesbro said Perez “cares for people,” and described him as “warm, caring, and a humanitarian.”
The fairy tale got thick was when he said that Perez is responsible for “restoring the integrity to the budget process.” But Chesbro neglected to mention the unorthodox budget process last year, as budget talks were done without the usual group of party leadership, and instead were a party of three, consisting of Gov. Jerry Brown, Perez, and Steinberg – all Democrats.
Assemblywoman Toni Adkins, D-San Diego, said Perez is “thoughtful, conscientious, and kind,” and ”fought tirelessly for Californians’ dreams.”
“Long live the queen!” shouted Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, after Perez was sworn in. Perez is openly gay, as is Ammiano, the class cut-up, who frequently makes very funny comments during Assembly sessions.
“Together we passed two consecutive on-time budgets,” Perez said after accepting his party’s nomination.
Perez said that the Assembly has already “created a path to prosperity.” He claimed that the “Assembly passed tax credits for manufacturers, regulatory reform and pension reform.”
“Our work isn’t over until every Californian who wants a job can find one,” Perez added.
Assembly Minority leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, was re-elected, as was Senate Minority leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. Huff warned, “Now is not the time to go on a spending spree, or California will face its own fiscal cliff.”
There was no talk of the economic recession, the record high unemployment, expanding state government, the record annual debt, or the many cities already in or teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.
And the punishments are already being meted out as some Republican legislators were moved to smaller offices. Let the games begin.