California State Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines is relinquishing his post, effective June 1st. He will still hold his publicly elected Assembly seat.
Villines was the Assembly's republican face during rocky budget negotiations in February in which state sales tax was temporarily increased. During the same budget process, pressure from Republicans in the state Senate caused their leader Dave Cogdill to step down over his support of the proposed tax increases.
While Villines acknowledged that his presence at next year's budget could complicate matters, he said that his resignation as minority party leader was planned all along.
"My wife and kids have taken a tremendous hit," he said. "I've done three budgets. I think I can offer a lot of advice and wisdom with the team, but I think I've run my course. So the timing is right."
Villines defended his decisions during the budget crisis, saying that the state got the best deal possible.
"When I share with people that temporary [tax increases] is much better than permanent, and keeping 17,000 inmates in prison is a much better deal, they understand that," Villines said. "They don't like it, but the problem is communicating that with 38 million people."
Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, a reputed tax opponent, was elected by Assembly republicans to take over as minority leader.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth. This photo was taken during the
Sacramento Road Trip in 2008.
Our Assemblyman Cameron Smyth will retain his position as the Republican Caucus Chairman for the Assembly.
Upon learning the news of Villines' resignation, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement on the election of Assembly member Sam Blakeslee to replace Villines.
"As a fiscal hawk who works tirelessly to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, Assembly member Blakeslee will be a great partner in this leadership role. I look forward to working with him to tackle the important issues facing our state right now including the budget, water infrastructure and improving our state's business climate.
"It was a great pleasure to work with Mike Villines as part of our state's legislative leadership and I want to thank him for his dedicated work. He is a true advocate for the people of this state and demonstrated incredible political courage to do what is right for California in the face of opposition from entrenched ideologues. I look forward to continuing to work with him and the entire Assembly Republican Caucus to move California forward."