By Jim Sanders
Adding fuel to a bitter fight, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino has proposed stripping the Assembly leader of the authority to set budgets and assign offices for the 80 members of the lower house.
Under Portantino's proposed rules change, the Assembly Rules Committee would be required to consider office budgets and assign offices in a public meeting.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez would appoint members to the Rules Committee, and its leaders, but Pérez no longer would have personal authority over member budgets and offices.
Portantino, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, proposed the changes Friday in the wake of a battle with Pérez. He has accused the speaker of punishing him by cutting his budget after he cast the lone Democratic vote against this year's controversial state budget.
Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for Pérez, declined today to comment on Portantino's proposed rule changes. Pérez has a "plan of action" that he plans to roll out later today, she said.
Portantino's proposal, House Resolution 20, is expected to be available publicly today.
The proposal also calls for the Assembly to post on its website information that would allow Californians to see whether any sums above $1,000 were added or subtracted to a member's budget each quarter.
The Assembly would be required to publicly display information about its contracts, expenditures, any gifts or donations it makes, and any payments made to satisfy a legal claim against any Assembly member or employee.
Publishers of The Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times filed suit this month after the Assembly declined to release records of lawmakers' current office budgets and spending.
Jon Waldie, chief administrator of the Rules Committee, recently said that projections of members' current budgets and spending can change throughout the year, contain confidential personnel information, and are used in private communications to lawmakers' offices.