Los Angeles Democrat and Assemblyman Kevin de León, who played a key role in galvanizing Latino voters for Jerry Brown, said this week he's expecting the new governor to be "honest, transparent with all of us. And I expect him to be compassionate."
"On election night, the Latinos in California provided a huge lift to Jerry Brown," said de León, who's pictured at right. "And now Latinos expect him to help get California back to work. Latinos have been disproportionately hit by the recession."
Then there's an estimated $12 billion to $15 billion budget deficit -- and what to do if Democratic legislators want to avoid making deeper cuts to social services and laying off legions of state workers.
De León will be switching over to the state Senate on Dec. 6 after being elected Tuesday to the upper house. He participated in a post-election conference call Thursday with Senate Democrats, he said, and they discussed the sobering fiscal reality California faces. He's hoping Brown takes an "exhaustive approach" to reviewing government spending and uses his knowledge of how bureaucracies work to come up with plans.
"People regardless of ideology want an efficient government," de León said.
Sen. Gil Cedillo, a Los Angeles Democrat who was elected to de León's Assembly seat, also worked on the push to turn out Latino voters for Brown.
He said he doesn't think Latino voters or public-worker unions that launched a massive get-out-the-Latino-vote effort have illusions that Brown "is a savior."
They were motivated, too, Cedillo said, to turn out to reject Republican candidate Meg Whitman because of the GOP's "extreme" positions on illegal immigration and other issues.
"I think we have reasoned expectations" of Brown because of the budget and the economy, Cedillo said. "We recognize it's a really different time."
He said Democratic legislative leaders have established their "bottom line, the core of what we want to protect" as they prepare to tackle the budget. And they're counting on Brown's experience to lead the way, Cedillo said.
San Francisco Democrat and Sen. Leland Yee, who refused to vote for a budget with social-service cuts this year, said: "At least with Jerry you'll get some plain talk, and you can at least feel the governor's office is more open, honest and straight-forward with you."
"Maybe that's wishful thinking," Yee said. But he said he'd rather know "up front" if the incoming governor thinks a proposal is an absolute no-go.
After Yee refused to vote for the budget this year, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg sacked Yee from his role as assistant pro tem as a punishment.
Yee said he knows that "it's a tall order" to expect Brown not to cut spending on social services and that Brown has talked about "living within our means."
But Yee expects Brown to look for other types of reductions. And he expects Brown to bring public-worker unions to the table in a less combative fashion than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to talk about pension reform and other cost-cutting ideas. "They're not just greedy workers," Yee said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, looks at his phone during the confirmation hearing for Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, for lieutenant governor on the Assembly floor on Thursday February 11, 2010. Hector Amezcua/ Sacramento Bee file photo