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Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the Legislature to part time say they hope to raise $2.6 million for the effort, but records show that contributions have been few and relatively small in the campaign's first few weeks.

Assemblyman Shannon Grove, in a meeting today with The Bee Capitol Bureau, said that even Republican legislative colleagues have been reluctant to help finance the measure thus far.

"No one has stepped forward yet," Grove, R-Bakersfield, said of GOP legislators.

Of $85,000 in contributions reported to the secretary of state, Grove's Assembly campaign committee has been the single largest donor, $30,000. Seven other donations have been reported, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, records show.

Asked if she expected a wealthy activist with deep pockets to bankroll the campaign, Grove smiled.

"I wouldn't turn it down if they decided to show up," she said.

The initiative would reduce the legislative year from nine months to three, cut lawmakers' annual pay from $95,000 to $18,000, require legislators to adopt two-year state budgets, and bar officeholders from accepting state employment or appointment to a state post while serving in the Capitol or for five years afterward.

Supporters contend the measure would create a citizens legislature that would have less time to pass bills that damage the state. Opponents counter that passage would discourage good candidates from running and increase reliance upon lobbyists.

Grove said the initiative is polling very well among voters. But her partner in the campaign, Ted Costa of People's Advocate, said he expects many of the Capitol's strongest interests - from the state's teachers union to the California Chamber of Commerce - to oppose it.

Proponents need to collect 807,615 valid voter signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

Critics took the gloves off today, taking a personal shot at Grove. They urged her, in a written statement, to voluntarily cut her own $95,291 salary and per diem payments of $142 per day while the Legislature is in session.

"I'd respectfully suggest that (Grove) would be a lot more credible on this issue if she would practice what she preaches," said former Democratic Assemblyman Dario Frommer, who is leading an opposition group.

Grove countered that she accepts per diem, then donates it to nonprofits or community projects. If she didn't, the money simply would revert to Speaker John A. Pérez's use, she said.

Under existing law, lawmakers are required to be at the Capitol for nine months per year, so Grove said she accepts her $95,291 salary to help offset costs of leaving home to stay in Sacramento so long.


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