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Assembly Speaker Karen Bass Prepares To Hand Over The Gavel To Another Democrat

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass is bidding farewell to her job as a legislative leader.   

She won’t be termed out of office until November, but next week she’ll pass the gavel to fellow Democrat John Perez.

Today, (Tuesday), Bass reflected on her accomplishments and outlined her goals before she leaves the legislature. Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports...
Bass says she has a hard time believing it’s been almost two years since she was sworn in as Speaker. 

She says at the time, she had no idea that the recession would force lawmakers to make such severe cuts in the state budget. 

But, is she sorry she took the job?
Bass:  “I have no regrets. You know it was definitely the two most difficult years that I’ve ever experienced politically. Not personally, but politically. But I was glad that I was there...”
Bass was the first African-American woman to serve as California’s Assembly Speaker.  

Now she’s handing the job over to the first openly gay man to hold the post: Democratic Assemblymember John Perez who’s also from Los Angeles. 

Bass says she’s been talking to Perez about the so-called “Big Five”--the four legislative leaders and the governor...who hold state budget negotiations in private. 

Bass says she dreaded “Big Five” meetings—in fact she compared them to being detained in Guatanamo Bay or “GITMO.” 

And, she shows off an inscribed decorative wooden box her Assembly colleagues recently gave her as a gag gift...     
Bass:  “This is from speaker-elect Perez. It says upon her negotiated release from Gitmo, and the resolution of the 08-09 budget, and I called it Gitmo, you know joking...because sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry. Because it was torture to make the cuts...”
Bass says although they were difficult to make, the cuts were necessary to shrink the state’s multi-billion dollar shortfall...
Bass:  “But, having said that though, I do feel good that we were able to at least take the safety net programs and keep them alive. Put them on life support if you will...”
Bass says she’ll try to restore millions of dollars in cuts to foster care programs before she leaves the legislature in November. 

And, she says she’ll be running a “fast and furious” campaign to fill the seat of retiring Los Angeles Congresswoman, Diane Watson. 
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