Grading the Assembly Class of ‘02

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As with all post-term limited freshmen classes, they came to Sacramento with lofty ambitions to represent their constituents or, in Capitol terminology, “do the people’s business.” The thirty or so legislators elected in November, 2002 are leaving or moving on to the Senate. So how did they do?

Collectively, they failed.

With term limits, it’s pretty easy to avoid the big-ticket, thorny issues that really require a healthy amount of planning and study prior to actually drafting a piece of legislation. Major issues also take backbone to make the hard choices. We lack that here today.

As legislators clean out their offices this week, turn in their state-owned cars, and say goodbye to loyal staff members, they leave here knowing the prison system is in federal receivership, nothing has been done to get closer to a real water supply effort to take care of a growing California, and economic safety nets are threatened for the needy. You did pass six budgets, most with gimmicks and increased debt that future Californians will pay for.

All around you, the state’s infrastructure is crumbling. Hospitals, schools, roads and highways, and electric transmission lines need to be built or modernized. Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced a “green building” program. It would be easier to just paint the ones we have olive drab. Nothing was done by the state Legislature to address these needs. But whatever we do build, it will be more environmentally friendly because of AB 32, which we are still trying figure out how to implement.

It’s time legislators realize they are more than just the Big 4. You can make a difference. To the Class of 2008, welcome to Sacramento.