As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Save The Spending Cap Three

Karen Bass has made a baffling, counter-productive move to punish Sandre Swanson, Warren Furutani, and Tony Mendoza, lawmakers who did the right thing for their districts and their state by opposing the spending cap part of the budget. The LA Times has a good story on this.

Like a military commander busting down insubordinate troops, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) has stripped committee chairmanships from a trio of wayward lawmakers after they refused to join fellow Democrats in support of a key budget provision.

The three assemblymen -- Sandre Swanson of Alameda, Warren Furutani of Gardena and Tony Mendoza of Artesia -- voted last month against a measure to cap state spending, which will appear on a special statewide ballot this spring [...]

By removing the three lawmakers from their posts, Bass takes away key staff assistance, clout on policy issues and potential fundraising power.

She's hurting those lawmakers, but as the above sentence makes clear, she's hurting their constituents as well. All because they couldn't go along with a plan that will make it impossible to deliver basic services to Californians, even in good economic times. And the spokeswoman for Bass trying to sidestep the rationale for this is pathetic.

"Having now had a couple months to see this class in action," the speaker felt changes were needed "to ensure the Assembly can continue to do the best job for the people of California," said spokeswoman Shannon Murphy.

She declined to elaborate, calling the changes "an internal caucus matter."

You'll notice that Darrell Steinberg did not mete out this punishment to, for example, Loni Hancock, who voted against the spending cap in the Senate.

I understand the desire for leadership to have control of their caucus, but unless we're concluding that Karen Bass really really wanted to cap state spending, there is no good reason to enforce party discipline on a terrible vote. When the spending cap goes down because of the arrogant way that Bass and the legislature hid the true costs, both on the spending side and on the taxation side, these three members who were right all along will appear to be the only ones who suffer.

I think it's worth writing or calling the Speaker and asking her why she wants to punish progressives for voting to protect services for Californians. And you might ask her, politely, to reinstate the Spending Cap Three.

District Address
5750 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 565
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 937-4747
Fax: (323) 937-3466

Capitol Address
P.O. Box 942849
Room 219
Sacramento, CA 94249-0047
Phone: (916) 319-2047

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