(Dec. 19, 2003) -- Assemblywoman and Assembly Budget Committee chair Jenny Oropeza (D., Long Beach-Carson) has called Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's use of emergency powers to allocate VLF backfill money to local government "disappointing" saying "Democrats have proven, most recently during talks on the deficit bonds, that we are willing to sit down with the governor to work on solutions and solve problems."
In a release posted on her Assembly web site, the powerful chair of the Assembly Budget Committee -- who coauthored the compromise balanced budget amendment and deficit financing bond accepted by Schwarzenegger that will be on the March 2004 statewide ballot -- said "Lawmakers have supported the backfill to local governments all along, but we need to see how the governor, who created this problem, is going to pay for it."
Her release adds, "For him [Gov. Scjhwarzenegger] to say now, on the eve of the holidays, that he's taking this step -- without any participation by the Legislature -- sends a disheartening message."
Assemblywoman Oropeza's statements contrast with praise for Governor Schwarzenegger's action by LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, L.A. Mayor James Hahn and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown -- all Democrats. As previously reported by LBReport.com, Mayor Brown, a former Governor, explicitly commended Governor Schwarzenegger's use of his executive powers which Brown said "upheld the finest tradition of the executive branch by doing the right thing and exercising the executive power to the max. That's the only way you get anything done around here."
In announcing his VLF backfill action on Dec. 18 (reported within minutes by LBReport.com), Governor Schwarzenegger said:
"I have sponsored legislation that will restore local funding, but the bills have been blocked by the Democratic leadership in the legislature. I've asked them over and over again to join me to give back to the local government the money that we owe them. And even though time is running out for the local governments, and they're stranded with no money, our legislators have left town. Since the leadership has not acted, I will act without them."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, in the final Assembly session before adjourning for the year, Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza voted "no," and Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D, LB-PV-San Pedro) didn't vote, on motions by Assembly Republicans to take up two VLF backfill bills -- including Lowenthal's own VLF backfill bill. Earlier in the same session, Lowenthal and Oropeza joined other Democrats in voting "no" on two Republican parliamentary motions seeking to discuss the Lowenthal and GOP backfill bills.
Assemblywoman Oropeza's Dec. 18 release in reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger's backfill action also included the following statements:
"Local governments may think the governor has given them a solution but itís short term. Make no mistake, it was the unilateral action by the governor that created a nearly $4 billion hole in local government funding."
"Democrats have long been concerned about the suspension of the VLF, especially how it may affect public safety. We have been sounding this warning for nearly a year."
Gov. Schwarzenegger Breaks VLF Gridlock, Bypasses Legislature, Backfills Local Gov't Citing Midyear Budget Powers
LB Ass'ywoman Oropeza Voted "No" & Ass'yman Lowenthal Didn't Vote On Dec. 11 Assembly Motions To Discuss VLF Backfill Bills -- Including Lowenthal's Bill