Assemblyman John Perez of Los Angeles was sworn in as Speaker this afternoon.
His eloquent speech described his journey to be one of the most powerful people in California. It also started to outline procedural reforms, especially around the budget process. It’s worth reading:
In addition to focusing on solving our budget crisis and creating jobs, I want this to be a year of reform, real reform!
I envision a three pronged attack.
There are reforms the people in their wisdom must vote on.
For example, I believe that California’s budget should be approved by a simple majority, just like 47 other states and the federal government. As history has shown time and again, if the people lose confidence in the majority party, that party will soon find itself in the minority.
There are reforms the legislature can adopt in a bipartisan, bicameral way—and we will be finalizing some of those proposals in the next couple days.
However some reforms must be made immediately.
I’ve already announced that the budget will not be written behind closed doors in Big 5 meetings. A full budget committee and subcommittee process will ensure all members get to participate and there is time for public input and independent review of the proposals.
Hearings will be held around the state so that everyday Californians have the opportunity to look us in the eye and tell us how our budget proposals will affect their lives. And more importantly, they will have the chance to offer new ideas to us.
We will broadcast our budget hearings and deliberations on the web and where possible on TV. Posting information on the Internet will make it easy for Californians to view the budget, see our proposals for themselves and evaluate the impact on their lives.
Now I’m a big believer in technology, but sometimes we need to limit its reach. Another essential reform we must make immediately is to limit the use of certain technology on the floor and in hearings.
Starting today, text messages from lobbyists are banned while we’re on this floor or in committee doing the people’s business. Californians expect us to pay full attention to the issues and to each other — and they deserve to know who is involved in the debate. They need not worry that special interest lobbyists are secretly sending messages of opposition or support to us as we deliberate.
At each of these levels – with the voters, with our Senate colleagues and in our own house, we must work together to produce a package of reforms that each and every one of us can be proud of and that allow us to serve our constituents better.
We wish Speaker Perez well in his new position!