Kevin de Leon+Jerry Brown+Toni Atkins

California Gov. Jerry Brown, with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, left, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, in June. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

John Myers
December 11, 2015

In the eyes of Martin Weil, it’s not the hard slog of political deal-making that explains why his 26-year old daughter, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy who is unable to speak, struggles to keep the services she needs.

It’s more like political malpractice.

“It’s not just frustrating, it’s appalling,” said Weil, a Sonoma resident who traveled with his daughter to Sacramento on Thursday.

Weil and his family joined a crowd of a few hundred at the state Capitol to vent their anger over inaction on efforts to boost funding for the developmentally disabled. The program’s long-term finances were supposed to be sorted out in a special session of the Legislature, called by Gov. Jerry Brown almost six months ago.

“We want to get them done,” Brown said at a June news conference in which he announced two special sessions, efforts to find craft new funding plans on healthcare and transportation issues.

Months later, both missions remain unfulfilled.

Legislative committees convened in both special sessions have met only a handful of times since lawmakers decamped to their districts in late summer, and even then the hearings have mostly been information-only events and not ones designed to produce action.

“There’s a lot of events beyond our control,” said Jim Earp, executive consultant to the California Alliance for Jobs, a transportation advocacy group.

The designation of a legislative sessions as “special” is something of a misnomer, at least in the way most people might view them. State law simply says a special session is one convened by the governor on a particular topic, a session that runs concurrently with normal legislative business and can extend beyond the agreed upon calendar of activities.

But in the eyes of activists on health and transportation issues, Brown’s convening of special legislative sessions seemed to be a promise that something extraordinary was going to happen.

“We work hard for our money,” said Desiree Pollard, a Sacramento caregiver for those with developmental disabilities. “We need it now.”

To read expanded article, click here.