Torrico wants legislature penalties if budget is late again

Also seeks to lower two-thirds supermajority requirement to 51%, or simple majority on budget votes

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) has introduced a good government reform package that would prohibit state legislators from accepting gifts from lobbyists, require them to forfeit per diem and disallow campaign fundraising every day the Legislature misses the June 15 budget deadline.

"The reputation of this institution has been badly damaged by the protracted budget impasse," Torrico said. "It's clear to me that the public's perception of legislators is extremely low. We need to restore the public's confidence and faith in its elected leaders, and these proposals will be a positive step toward achieving that goal."

Torrico's proposals are included in AB 1411 and AB 1412. They would:

• Prohibit a lobbyist, lobbying firm, or lobbyist employer from making any gift to a member of the Legislature.

• Prohibit, if the budget bill is not passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor by June 15, payment to the legislators for living expenses and travel until the budget bill is passed and sent to the Governor. The funds that are not paid would be permanently forfeited.

• Prohibit legislators, after June 15, from engaging in campaign fund-raising activities until the budget bill is passed and sent to the Governor.

"I work with outstanding, dedicated public officials, but one of the lessons we should learn from this recent budget debacle is the public does not like the status quo," Torrico said. "They want to see changes and these are steps to enable us to change the public's perception of the Capitol's culture. The reforms I am proposing will give Californians a stronger sense that we are looking out for the public's interest."

Another reform that is not part of Torrico's package but is supported by him is lowering the supermajority threshold for adoption of the budget and tax increases. The supermajority requirement allows the minority party to hold the state budget hostage and force concessions on issues that don't belong in budget negotiations, Torrico said. He supports going to the ballot to lower the two-thirds threshold so California is more in line with the 47 other states that require a majority vote to pass the budget.

"The two-thirds requirement is very difficult to reach and increasingly makes the state look ungovernable or dysfunctional," Torrico said. "Then you add the campaign fundraising, the gifts and the per diem and the public has had enough. My reforms would be a positive step forward for California and hopefully voters will also have another chance to allow more majority rule on the state budget vote."

alberto torrico,california state legislature


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Posted by West side observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:55 am

You think this guy's running for higher office?

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Posted by FYI
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

He has already announced he is running for Attorney General. Your point? He will be termed out in 2010. Someone has to run. In addition, this is not the first time he has introduced legislation to speed up the budget process.

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Posted by Just another politician ...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

"Good government" ?

This is the guy that slimed Tom Pico in the primary race accusing Pico of visting Dublin, Ireland on the taxpayers dime. Turns out, Tom was visiting Dublin, California. That's how he got his current job.

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Posted by FYI
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2009 at 11:29 am

I think I would check the facts before I throw mud on someone. It was an independent expenditure and he and Pico worked that out.

Could it be that he had more votes than Pico?

The difficulty with Pico is that he is from Pleasanton (at the time had fewer Democrats than Republicans) and it is hard to beat someone from across the hill who had name recognition in the Tri Cities area with a larger number of registered Democrats.

Pleasanton has two other assembly districts and only a small part of Torrico's district. It was at least in part a numbers game.

You obviously don't know him and have not followed his legislation. He did not get his current position as majority leader by doing the things you have accused him of doing.

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Posted by Bruce
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

He forgot to include permanent loss of salary during the time the budget is late. He is proposing this legislation before some citizens propose an initititive to make the penalty for not doing their job worse. It would be nice to take away some of their retirement, too. Anybody have time on your hands?

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Posted by Carrie
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Torrico is just trying to get some positive press before he runs for Attorney General.

I'm so disappointed and disgusted, I guess you could say, with the state government and the way it has been run. What a mess. I feel like tlling anyone in office now to just pack up their careers and go back to their original professions. I have promised myself not to vote for anyone who has held public office...almost an impossible task, I know...but it would make me too sick to punch in that vote for someone who has been part of the boondoggle. I'll just leave it blank and let everyone else put them in office - it hardly matters anyway-they are all the same - just promoting their own careers.

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Posted by I remember Torrico
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Dear FYI,

For YOUR information, 'Just another politician' got it right, but he forgot to add the false trip to China accusation, too. And as for your comment, "It was an independent expenditure and he and Pico worked that out.", sorry, I don't think so. Are you kidding me? Pico was absolutely furious about the false accusations at the time, and rightfully so. The direct mailings were classic political hit pieces.

Are you so naive to think that Torrico knew nothing about them before they were sent out? Gee, I don't recall any public retraction or apology from Torrico at the time, do you?

Please--some of us do have memories. Torrico's just another "anything to get elected" politician, and the state AG post looks like a nice big piece of candy for him to go after, since he's terming out, and assuming Jerry Brown runs for governor and thus doesn't seek re-election as state AG, in which case, Torrico will start sniffing around for something else to his liking that he can pursue election to.

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Posted by Hey There
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Mar 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm

"anyone in office now to just pack up their careers and go back to their original professions."

But aren't most of these guys (are girls) at the state level career politicians? They have no "original profession" other than to become a politician. That's why they have to work so hard to keep their job, not make the good, tough, right decisions which may lose them some votes.

That's the biggest problem is politics today. Our elected officials on all levels only want to make the "popular decision" because it will save them the most votes. We need real leaders who can actually make the decisions that are necessary and may not be popular. If we all just wanted to make the popular decision, then everything should go to ballot. See how well that has worked for us here in California so far.

But hey, let's just build another dam as it will bring jobs to "my district"

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Posted by Not a Loon
a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 10, 2009 at 9:01 am

Torrico is just trying to get press - with half-a-loaf proposals. He used to bash toll lanes as Lexus lanes, but now is a big proponent since he discovered the largest group of users are blue-coller workers.

Regarding the legislature, a better solution would be to have California legislators lose ALL their pay, benefits and perks for all days they go beyond the deadline without a budget.

Still better yet, California should model its legislature after those in a number of other states which are much better governed. Their legislatures are in session only about two months out of the year - and they are much more productive. The key is that the legislators' livlihoods do not come from being legislators - they are not professional politicians. They are also more dialed into the real world (i.e. they have to earn a living as opposed to being pigs at the public slop trough which they control).

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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 10, 2009 at 7:09 pm

For years, I have been advocating that if a budget is not passed ON TIME, then the legislators " un quote "" should NOT be paid, NOR should they receive their even more lucrative "per diem". Why should we pay people to do something they do NOT DO? The same should apply to all in elected office that participate in this "non-process"! Up to, and including, the Governor.
When you hire a handyman to do a job, and he doesn't do it, do you pay him?
When you sign a contract to put on a new roof, and it is not done as per the contract, do you pay him?

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Posted by In fact
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Part time legislators work in states that have fewer people in the entire state than we have in an assembly district. Those states also pass their budgets with a simple majority. Something like three states have a two-thirds requirement to pass a budget.

THINK voters is a great idea! The reason CA can't balance its budget is largely due to citizen initiatives that mandate money be spent in a particular way without regard to income. Know what you are signing. Take the time to research.

The citizens of the state are to blame also. We vote for these mandates. Then wonder why the state legislators can't squeeze money from a turnup. This year it has been complicated by a decrease in income not overspending. I know there is waste but not 25% of the budget.


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Posted by Not a Loon
a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Regarding the idea that part-time legislatures work only in states that have fewer people in the entire state than we have in an assembly district -- which of our assembly districts has a larger population than Texas??? To almost any observer outside the state of California, Texas is a much better run state than California. There are also a number of other states with populations exceeding 5 million people that have part-time legislatures that are MUCH better run than California.

As a matter of fact, it would be a great debate as to whether the U. S. Congress should be a part-time body. Again, the idea is to get rid of the professional politicians whose main goal is enriching themselves.

Two well-known axioms:
- The time it takes to get somthing done usually expands to the time allotted.
- If you want something done, give it to a busy person.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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