It was a moving ceremony today to install the new Speaker of the Assembly, Karen Bass.
Some common points were made in the various speeches and comments: her position is historic, as the first African-American female to lead a legislative body in the U.S.; her background in community organizing; her courage in the face of a recent tragedy of losing her daughter; and her personal interest in and advocacy for foster care children. She gave a beautiful speech as well.
Through the day, the topic that loomed was, predictably, the state budget. It’s the task at hand, and one that will impact everyone in California, and every issue. And especially health care, given that health care is second only to education in its claim on the state budget.
Jon Myers at KQED Capitol Notes has an interview and asked about the future of health reform. While the new Speaker made clear that the budget was (appropriately) the first, second and third priority, she said, in reponse to Myers’ questions, “I don’t think it is dead at all… I absolutely want to get back to health care reform, but we have to deal with the budget first…. There will be time left in the legislative year to address health care reform…. No, I don’t think it was too much bitten off…. I would very much like to tackle the whole issue.”
Important signal. Shoring up the budget is an important foundation for health reform, but we have a Speaker that is willing to move forward this year and next, in order to win elements of a comprehensive reform package.
And so congratulations to Speaker Bass: she also now gets her own label on this blog, so that people can click on her below, and get most of this blog’s posts related to her and health care.