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On a party-line vote, the Assembly on Thursday affirmed a union-backed resolution urging lawmakers to resist contracting out public services.

The non-binding resolution stipulates that the Assembly "opposes outsourcing of public services and assets." Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, the measure's author, said public entities can cloud an otherwise open process when they contract out work, and warned outsourcing can lead to "rubber-stamped" contract awards with no discussion.

"Over the years, outsourcing has left taxpayers without transparency or accountability to where the taxpayer money is being used," said Gomez.

But opponents, including a number of Republicans who decried the measure, said it skews the contracting process by limiting choices that can drive down costs to the benefit of voters. Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, urged his colleagues to "stand for free competition," a message echoed by other critics.

"We represent all the residents of this state, not just public workers," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

The measure passed 42-22, with several Democrats refusing to vote.

Before the vote, business and local government organizations rallied against the measure, saying it would constrain their decisions and strain budgets. That a legally non-binding resolution caused such consternation demonstrated the issue's potentially broad impact.

"We contract with other local agencies for services" from garbage collection to maintaining public buildings, said Dan Carrigg, legislative director of the California League of Cities, faulting the Legislature for "one of the most ill-informed, poorly considered things they could possibly do."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D- Los Angeles listens during the first day of session at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 .


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