Getting people back to work and approaching the budget in a more human way are two of the top priorities for new Speaker of the Assembly John Perez.
Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat who talked about his humble circumstances growing up that were ameliorated in part by a loving, supportive family, was sworn in as the 68th Speaker of the Assembl Tuesday.
During a press conference with the African American media, Perez said believes that in order to get people back to work, especially African Americans, innovative approaches to educating and preparing individuals for the job market are required.
“I unveiled the idea of a public-private partnership . . . that can help get people through nursing and other allied health programs with guaranteed access to the classes needed.”
Perez has also vowed to approach the budget process in a more transparent way, which means that instead of the legislative “Big Five” crafting it behind closed doors, subcommittees, full committees and community residents will have input during the development process.
“The governor did some incredibly mean things that had an incredibly negative impact on the African American community,” Perez pointed out. “He cut $12 million from the Maternal Child Program, which effectively eliminated the African American infant program. He cut $80 million from foster care and made cuts that took more kids off Calworks.”
“In terms of the way the budget was approached, it disproportionately negatively hurt African Americans; I’m going to try to change that.”
In addition, Perez who said he has always been opposed to the three strikes law, particularly the way it is currently constructed, supports the idea of making sure a third strike is a serious crime.
He also said it is critical to invest in getting people who are incarcerated re-directed into the job market by providing them the soft work skills and training needed.
The newly installed Assembly Speaker also pointed to a local hire program he helped implement in L.A. as a model that can be used to help those with barriers to accessing jobs.
Finally, Perez stressed the need to change how the California budget is approved to a simple majority from the current two-thirds requirement.
The speaker said there are efforts underway to get an initiative onto the November ballot addressing the issue. He said there is also a legislative packet poised for consideration but predicted that would be a much harder sell.