By Joe Piasecki, Los Angeles Times
December 5, 2011

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled that the California Assembly must disclose budget records of individual lawmakers, handing a victory to newspapers that filed a lawsuit accusing legislators of flouting the state’s open records laws.

The Los Angeles Times and McClatchy Newspapers sued the legislative body after records requests by The Times, the Pasadena Sun and the Sacramento Bee were denied.

The newspapers sought data on the budgets after Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) complained in June that Democratic Assembly leaders slashed his staff budget as political payback for voting against the party’s budget proposal.

“This is a huge victory for transparency and accountability,” Portantino said in a statement after the Thursday decision. “This issue is no longer about me, but is now about making Sacramento function better by using transparency to improve decision-making and the democratic process.”

Attorney Kelli Sager, who represented the newspapers, said the decision was a “strong affirmation of the public’s right to know how the state Legislature is spending taxpayer dollars.”

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