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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said he is looking for opportunities to work on education issues after he terms out of office in 2014.

"I would love to stay in the Legislature. That is what I would love to do. I'm just not allowed to do it under the law," Pérez said in a public conversation today with Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

He went on to say that enacting term limits is "one of the most negative decisions the voters have made."

"It has hurt us as a state," Pérez said.

Pérez said he "may very well not run for another office for a while" because he is termed out of the Assembly and the Senate seat representing his Los Angeles district is filled.

"There's nothing that's really out there," he said.

"I want to do something where I can still be engaged in public policy discussions. But I also want to do something where I still interact with other folks that I enjoy. The greatest enjoyment I get is working with students, whether K-12 students or university students. So I want to do something where I can interact with students."

As Assembly Speaker, Pérez holds seats on the governing boards of both of California's university systems. His signature piece of legislation last year proposed raising taxes on out-of-state corporations to fund scholarships for middle-class college students. It failed to get out of the Legislature.

Pérez said today he still wants to make college more affordable for students whose families make too much to qualify for financial aid, but still struggle to afford tuition. He said he'd like to see some of the money voters approved in November through Proposition 39 go toward reducing the cost of college for the middle class. The measure called for raising taxes on out-of-state companies -- with half the money going toward energy efficiency projects and half of it toward the state's general fund.

"I'm sure my colleagues in both houses have other ideas on how to use that money," Pérez said. "But when you look at the long term impact of college affordability on our economy, it's huge."

Photo credit: California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, March 11, 2013. Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.


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