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Assemblywoman Oropeza Appointed to Chair Powerful Assembly Budget Committee

Post increases her legislative clout

(February 6, 2002) -- In a move that reflects her budget prowess and significantly increases her legislative clout, LB Assemblywoman (and former 1st district LB Councilwoman) Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-Long Beach) has been named to chair the CA Assembly's powerful budget committee.

The post's power stems from the real world legislative process. Governor Gray Davis delivers his proposed budget to the Budget Committee.

Various budget spending areas (from agriculture to transportation) are then assigned to the Budget Committee's subcommittees for refinement, after which they must be approved by the full Budget Committee -- chaired by Oropeza -- before reaching the Assembly floor.

A parallel process takes place in the CA Senate; differences in their budget bills are reconciled and sent to the Governor.

Assemblywoman Oropeza was appointed to chair the Assembly Budget Committee by newly elected Assembly Speaker, Herb Wesson, Jr. (D., L.A-Culver City).

"Jenny Oropeza has always kept what is best for California in mind when facing tough decisions," Speaker Wesson said in a written release issued by Oropeza's office, adding "I expect nothing less from her as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee -- especially during a year when we must all re-evaluate our priorities. She has shown a keen understanding of complex budget issues and has a tremendous ability to bring people together."

Appointment to the powerful committee post is rare for a freshman legislator; Assemblywoman Oropeza was elected to the Assembly in November, 2000 and is completing her first term.

She has already chaired the Assembly's Budget Committee for the 2001-02 Third Extraordinary Session and served as an Alternate Budget Conferee and member of Assembly Committee on Budget last year, her first year in the Assembly.

"I welcome the opportunity to work with our new Speaker, Herb Wesson. His dynamic leadership and expertise will be critical during this difficult year," said Assemblywoman Oropeza. "With the state facing a $12 billion deficit it is critical that we fashion a budget that will spare education and the most vulnerable in our society."

"People have asked why I would want to focus my work on this process, which is expected to be even more difficult then the task of cutting the current year's budget," Oropeza continued. "I believe that providing leadership during tough times is even more important than in easy ones."

Although some LB Councilmembers sought to keep a low profile in budget deliberations, during her Council tenure (1994-2000) Oropeza seemed to relish the process, comfortable with fiscal details and displaying a "take charge" attitude that included framing Councilmembers' budget requests before crucial votes.

Oropeza did not shy from questioning city staff on budget items and was unafraid to press votes on policies with which she disagreed. She also engaged in budget colloquies (and occasional policy duels) with now retired LB City Manager Jim Hankla.

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