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Skelton: California Democrats divided over prison plans

September 03, 2013
  • Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), left, and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), shown last year in the Capitol, disagree over Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to reduce the California prison population.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), left, and… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown said he didn't want to keep dumping "more and more money down the rat hole of incarceration."

Since then, "his definition of rat hole obviously has changed," writes George Skelton in his Monday column.

Brown wants to spend $315 million this year and $415 the following year to lease beds for inmates in private prisons and other facilities. The plan is designed to satisfy a court order to reduce the state prison population by roughly 9,600 inmates by the end of the year.

The governor's idea has garnered support from Republicans but divided his own party -- Assembly Democrats back his plan, while Senate Democrats are opposed.

"It was completely predictable but is still fascinating to watch: Once Democrats seized firm control of California's Capitol they wound up fighting each other," Skelton writes. 

"Truth is, Senate and Assembly leaders often don't get along," he writes. "There are rivalries between the houses, and they habitually play games harassing each other, especially at the end of a legislative session. But seldom is it this bad."

Browse the Skelton column archive.


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