Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
October 7, 2010

Even as Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez on Thursday hailed transparency, openness and public participation in this year’s budget deliberations, the key bill on which his house was voting had not yet been released to the public.

The 800-page text of the main budget bill was not available from the Legislature’s Web site, from the office of the Assembly clerk, or from the bill room shortly before or directly after the Assembly’s first vote on the bill.

Needing 54 votes to pass, SB 870 fell 15 votes shy on the Assembly’s first roll call, taken about 12:15 p.m.

Pérez, during debate on the bill, touted more than a hundred Capitol hearings and various public forums held throughout the state to familiarize Californians with the state’s massive deficit and seek input.

“This is an unprecedented level of openness and transparency,” he said.

“The people of California have every right and expectation to know what decisions their leaders are making, and here when we face such enormous challenges, that expectation of transparency becomes an imperative of transparency,” Pérez said. “We’ve held up to that commitment.”

What Pérez failed to mention, however, was that once agreement was reached among legislative leaders, the package of 11 Senate and 11 Assembly bills was rushed into print on and onto the floor of both houses.

The public’s only chance to hear details about the final package was in a brief public hearing Wednesday by the joint budget conference committee.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, said final elements of the package were not released to lawmakers until shortly before Thursday’s Assembly vote.

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