By JEFF HORSEMAN / The Press-Enterprise
It’s understandable if Sen. Richard Roth feels the cold shoulder these days from Gov. Jerry Brown.
In recent weeks, the governor has vetoed three bills authored by, and important to, the Riverside Democrat. One would have restored vehicle license fees to four Riverside County cities, another would have provided money for more Inland judges and the third would have given small businesses tax credits to enhance their access for disabled customers.
In veto messages, Brown, a Democrat, wrote that the vehicle license fee bill would have been a drain on the state’s general fund. He said a more system-wide approach is needed to apportion judges and that California’s budget couldn’t afford tax credit bills like the one for disability access.
Roth, a retired Air Force general elected in 2012, said he learned Brown vetoed his judgeship bill, SB 229, through the media. He said he was disappointed he didn’t have the chance to talk about the veto with the governor’s staff.
“The judicial shortages in Inland Southern California … frankly are a public safety and social justice crisis and have been for at least a decade,” he said in a telephone interview. “There have been four legislative attempts to fix this problem without any success.”
“We tried to fix this issue for the fifth time this year on a very limited incremental basis, first through the budget and then through this bill, without success … I’m looking forward to see what specific plan the governor puts forward.”
Roth also expressed frustration with Brown’s veto of the SB 251, disability tax credit bill. “I was baffled to receive a voicemail Saturday morning from the Governor’s office informing me that SB 251, a proposal with widespread bipartisan support in the Legislature, had been vetoed,” Roth said in a news release.
“I am even more confused about his veto message. The disabled community and small business owners agreed the tax credit was a wise and prudent part of this proposal. Neither side raised any issue of concern with it over the course of our year-long negotiations.”
“This Governor has signed tax credits into law considerably higher than the one proposed by SB 251. In fact, this Governor signed one of my bills containing a robust tax credit into law last year. However, when the time came to sign SB 251, this Governor felt a relatively inexpensive tax credit outweighed the need to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act while protecting small business owners.
The governor did sign legislation that indirectly helps Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar – cities hit hard by the loss of vehicle license. That said, Roth has managed repeatedly to get his VLF bill through the Legislature with no opposition, only to have Brown veto it.
Asked if he thought there was a problem with Brown, Roth said: “The governor has his priorities and I have my priorities. Sometimes the lines intersect and sometimes they don’t.”
“My job is to represent the 31st Senate District and I intend to continue to do that to the best of my ability. Where there are funding shortfalls, my job is to fight for the restoration of funding.”
Roth is up for re-election in 2016. He won a competitive race with then-Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller four years ago to represent the 31st, which includes Riverside, Perris, Moreno Valley, Corona, Norco, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley.
At least one prominent Democrat is showing Roth some love. Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, is hosting a birthday fundraiser for Roth on Nov. 4 at March Field Air Museum.