Political Landscape: Gatto garners post and speaker positions

December 15, 2010

Gatto garners post and speaker positions

On Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker John Perez (D - Los Angeles) named Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) assistant speaker pro tempore, while tapping the freshman lawmaker for several influential committee posts.

Gatto will serve on the Appropriations, Arts and Entertainment, Banking and Government Operations committees, as well as the Water, Parks and Wildlife committee. As assistant speaker, Gatto will preside over the Assembly when Perez is absent.


"I'm honored to have been appointed to this post," Gatto said in a statement. "I appreciate the confidence placed in me by the speaker and my peers, and I will use the new position to continue to push for the common-sense reforms that matter to our district and the state of California."

Schiff differs on tax compromise

The tax compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans passed in the U.S. Senate Wednesday, and is now headed for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and his colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Schiff is among those displeased with aspects of the bill. The measure extends Bush-era income tax cuts to all citizens, whereas Democrats originally sought to limit the continued tax breaks to only those making $250,000 a year or less.

Democrats have given up the fight on that issue, and are turning to another part of the bill that affects estate taxes, paid by heirs to family fortunes and businesses.

"There are certainly parts of the package I like," Schiff said. "I like the extension of the middle-income tax cuts. But there are things in this package that seem gratuitous and unaffordable. The one that seems most misplaced is the expansion of the estate tax (exemption)."

Current law requires family members inheriting property worth $3.5 million or more to pay up to 55% of the net value of the estate in taxes.

Earlier this year, Schiff and other Democrats proposed exempting estates worth up to $7 million and capping the tax rate at 45%.

The bill approved in the Senate on Wednesday lifts the exemption to $10 million and caps the tax at 35%.

Schiff said the difference between the Democratic proposal and the one in the current bill only affects 6,600 families in the nation, but will cost the U.S. Treasury tens of billions of dollars at a time of deep deficits.

"That's a $23-billion Christmas present to 6,600 families. We can't afford to do it," Schiff said.

The House is scheduled to start wrestling with the bill this week.

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