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Political Landscape: Huff plans to hold the line

February 04, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk,

Last time a California governor asked voters for a tax increase, Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) offered his support. That won’t be the case this time.

Huff, whose district includes the Montrose Shopping Park and parts of La Crescenta, said this week that Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats will have to go further with legislative reforms and budget cuts if they are to get the five Republican votes needed in the state Legislature to put a tax measure on the June ballot.

In his State of the State speech Monday, Brown outlined a plan to deal with the state’s $25.4-billion budget deficit by cutting $12.5 billion and getting about as much from an extension of temporary sales, income and vehicle taxes first imposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.


“I don’t see the votes there now,” Huff said. “If the governor and the Democratic Party can show some true reforms and be credible about it, those votes might be there.”

But, he added, “I won’t be one of those. In my district, when people communicate with me, they want me to hold the line.”

Huff wants to see more spending cuts, and reforms including removal of “sole source, noncompetitive” rules locking in public union jobs for services such as driving school buses or preparing food in state facilities.

Huff said he appreciates the governor’s effort to work with Republicans, but said the 40 Republicans in the state Legislature need to use ongoing budget negotiations to force changes in state policy.

“We’d be missing a golden opportunity if we do not wrestle this budget to the ground,” he said.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), whose district overlaps Huff’s, is unsure if the governor will get the votes, but said Brown is making headway toward getting the tax measure to the ballot.

“I think the governor’s been doing a very good job of winning the public’s trust, and that’s the key to generating legislative support in a bipartisan way,” he said. “With the former governor, we used to have this bunker mentality, where the king was holed up in his bunker and very few people were allowed in. Governor Brown is in the hallways, he’s at the receptions, in members’ offices. He’s extremely approachable. It’s a whole new Capitol.”

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