Why did the Assembly fight to keep member budgets secret?

Before the decision not to appeal the ruling that the budget info must be provided, that was the question I posed to an insider who knows how Sacramento works. I have heard lawmakers from two decades ago suggest all kinds of shenanigans were kept from view by arbitrary rulings saying lots of legislative budget info must be kept secret, including the stashing of mistresses on committee payrolls. Is that what my insider pal thinks is going on?

Nope. But the reasons this insider offers for why Assembly Speaker John Perez fought so hard to keep details covered up are still pretty juicy.

1} The {Democratic] majority has at least double the budget per member, potentially a violation of equal representation. They pay their people far more and they have far more staff, hidden as “committee” or “caucus” staff.

2) Certain members benefit from having caucus staff, sometimes it’s a Republican who’s cut a deal (Mountjoy was famous for this, while ostensibly a conservative, he was close to Nunez).

There’s a separation of powers issue here. With the concentration of power in the Executive, the legislature only has the power of the purse and oversight. This is one of the reasons why the legislature has made itself immune from FOIA.

We shall see going forward. But I would bet anything that eventually we’ll learn of feather-bedding, at the least. Secrecy leads to bad decisions with amazing consistency.

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