SACRAMENTO – Democrats pushed an anti-Trump agenda and Republicans stuck mostly to their own state legislative agenda.
But the top representatives of both parties in the state capital expressed their appreciation for the press as reporters of the facts and as an institution that shines a light on government and its officials during an annual event Wednesday sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
“If you are willing to go to the front line and fight for the facts, I will be in the foxhole with you,” said newly appointed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Becerra was one of the top state Democrats who used the CNPA’s Governmental Affairs Day to blast President Trump’s policies including immigration and health care proposals that they said would hurt the people of California.
The CNPA event is held so that newspaper executives and their staff can talk to legislators about issues of concern to the industry primarily involving business laws and access to public information.
Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) was the most forceful in his condemnation of Trump’s policies.
“California has rejected the politics of bigotry. We refuse to go back to the politics of scapegoating. In this state we celebrate diversity, we don’t ban it, we don’t wall it off. We strive to build an open society where everyone can contribute,” de Leon said. He added that it would be illegal and unconstitutional if the federal government withheld money from the state if it didn’t help Washington enforce U.S. immigration law.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said he lamented the fact that the media were being challenged by Trump but he also said he was “tired of talking about Trump” when the state has serious issues to resolve such as poverty, infrastructure and a crisis in housing.
Rendon said he was concerned about the decline of civic engagement in the country and particularly in his Assembly district.
The two Republicans speaking to the group, Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) focused on some pressing state issues.
Fuller said the state needs to focus on monitoring pension costs and other liabilities and the state’s cost of living. She said officials need to keep their eye in maintaining the state’s rainy day fund, which is currently at $6.7 billion. She said health care costs are also of concern.
“I’m really tired of us overpromising and under-delivering,” Fuller said.
Mayes, who said he is an advocate for more open government on all levels, said partisan differences can get in the way of governing but that it doesn’t get as “personal” in Sacramento as it does in Washington. He said Republicans and Democrats are both in the business of helping people.
He said the greatest problem in the state is poverty. Housing costs are too high, Mayes said, because not enough new homes are being built.
Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma, a Democrat, addressed concerns from a questioner about transparency and accountability at her agency which handles 30 percent of all state tax revenues.
“We are currently being audited and I welcome that. Transparency and accountability is a problem.”
She said that the state was working on issues related to the legalization of recreational marijuana. State treasurer John Chiang was assembling a group of state officials to talk with federal officials about marijuana law, Ma said. Despite legalization at the state level, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.