Despite being on the job as Speaker of the Assembly for just a week, John A. Pérez isn’t wasting any time tackling the huge challenges California faces. Last night at Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference in Sacramento, Pérez detailed his plan to fix the broken budget process and deal with California’s jobs crisis.
This is the year of real, meaningful, lasting reform. We can’t address the jobs crisis and the budget crisis without addressing it all in a comprehensive manner. We know our challenges are enormous, but this can be a great year for California.
Pérez’ strategy to reform California’s broken budget process centers around transparency and fairness.
Our budget will no longer be negotiated behind closed doors by the “Big 5” (the ranking members from both parties in the Assembly and Senate, plus the Governor). We need the committees and the hearings and the public input. We’re still going to have to make some painful choices. But this way, we can ensure our budget is fair, and we can close our deficit in ways that cause the least amount of harm.
Pérez expressed his frustration with the Republican minority, which continues to highjack the budget process. He called for an end to the rule that requires a two-thirds majority to pass the state budget, and rebuked Republicans for slashing services and jobs with complete disregard for the millions of Californians who are struggling just to get by.
We know our values are the values of California. We’re going to fight for the social safety net as a pathway out of poverty. We’re going to fight for healthcare for the most vulnerable. Were going to fight to build a sustainable, green economy. And we’re going to fight for fair wages, dignity and respect for all workers.
We appear to be out of the worst of recession. But the pathway to recovery depends on job creation, and those jobs need to be high-wage, good union jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Pérez’ dedication to working families stems from his background in the labor movement. Prior to be elected to the Assembly, he served as political director at the California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
A pragmatic optimist, Pérez has a strategic but hopeful vision for California’s future, and that vision includes a statewide, grassroots effort to make sure all Californians have a chance to make their voices heard on the issues that matter most to them.
We need a coordinated, strategic approach throughout the state. This is a conversation that has to happen in every community. That’s the only way to achieve consensus.