President pro Tem Don Perata delivered a speech with incredible passion and candor on the California Senate floor during debate on bills that painfully cut expenditures from the current state budget. If you have just five minutes, this is one that you will want to watch.
These cuts were made to make up for lower-than-expected revenue. The seven bills passed with broad bipartisan support. Below is a part of what he had to say—but the speech as delivered is even more powerful than the printed word.
“For too long, we have in this body denied and even defied reality. That is that California lacks a governance structure capable of managing its future.”
“We all want a better future. That is undeniable. A future where all residents have an opportunity to live responsibly, without fear and with hope. Today’s budget belies that goal. It is a statement that California is going in the wrong direction, all of California is going in the wrong direction.”
“We cut education funds, yet we say that education is the cornerstone and foundation of our democracy. We want health care access and reform, yet we cut the very meager services that we now provide. We pride our nation at protecting its huddled masses and yet we deny the most needy in our society. None of us came here to destroy or to dismantle government.”
“There cannot unfortunately be a nice antiseptic formula or automatic triggers for increases or decreases.”
“We were elected to set standards and make choices. No one born in this state or who has moved to this state, wants it to be second class. And we won’t accept second class. I believe that that is a bipartisan, nonpartisan point of view.
“Democrats and Republicans do not want a second-class state. We won’t accept a second-class educational system. We won’t accept seniors who are left alone and children who are left out. We won’t accept having more people in prison than we do in our universities. We will not allow our environment to decay when we know we can prevent it.”
“I find hope in today. I looked and watched that budget committee spend those 30 hours debating and enlightening each other. . . . But by working together, we came up with a budget. Nobody likes it and nobody here is going to posture on this budget. No one can run for another office or the same office on this budget and get much enthusiasm from constituents – I don’t care where you live. But we did work together. All of us.”
“I saw, as people were talking, the revelation, that “How can podiatry be an optional service?” If you’ve ever had a toothache, how could dental service be an optional service to anybody?”
“Now maybe in the past we didn’t have the opportunity to look and see across the range. This year we will. We’re going to continue to do it in this manner. That’s why all of us are here. We are here to make lives better, to make the future brighter, to maintain the integrity of this institution, which we are simply visitors in maintaining for the greater good of this state.”
“We are a people, not a party. We are individuals only to act collectively. We are part of history, so let’s get on with making it and making it better.”