Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has canceled an order to furlough the staff of Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino.
Portantino had been informed by the Assembly Rules Committee in July that his staff would be put on leave without pay this fall because of projections that his office would run tens of thousands of dollars over budget. The La Cañada-Flintridge Democrat disputed the stated reason for the cut, saying he was being punished for being the lone Assembly Democrat to vote against the state budget package approved earlier.
Pérez's office announced today that the furloughs were no longer needed "in light of two staff departures, and the requests of two additional staff members for leaves of absence."
"The Speaker again expressed his disappointment at Mr. Portantino's continued refusal to cooperate in resolving his office budget issues, and noted that any staff hires, including replacement hires, must be accompanied by a spending plan that details how Mr. Portantino's expenditures will remain within his allocation," Pérez communications director Robin Swanson said in a statement.
Portantino responded with a release trumpeting that he "CLAIMS VICTORY" on behalf of his constituents.
"Though I am thrilled for my staff and district, I am disappointed that the Speaker is holding on to the delusion that this was anything but retaliation for my independent budget vote," he said in the statement. "It never made any sense to single out my staff and the half-million residents of the 44th A.D. because I voted my conscience."
The dust-up over cuts to Portantino's budget sparked months of public feuding between the two Assembly Democrats and triggered a broader push for disclosure of office spending information, including a lawsuit filed by The Bee. After initially denying requests from Portantino and several news outlets, the Assembly released office budgets in August. Portantino remained unsatisfied, accusing leaders of "cooking the books" to mislead the public about the lower house expenditures.
The announcement canceling the furloughs came hours after Portantino took yet another public swipe at the speaker over the Assembly's budgeting practices.