John Chiang, the state controller who is essentially the state’s CFO, will be the keynote speaker when KHTS takes a delegation of local leaders and community members to Sacramento next month.
KHTS AM-1220’s eighth annual Road Trip To Sacramento has become a local tradition unique to the Santa Clarita Valley.
Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who has been on the trip a half-dozen times as a local advocate, asked Chiang to speak to the local delegation this year.
“I really respect that job that he does every day,” Wilk said. “He really goes in every day and says, ‘What’s in the best interest for the taxpayers?’ To me, he’s the epitome of what a public servant ought to be.”
This year’s trip to Sacramento will take place from March 15-17. Among the topics discussed will be California’s fiscal plans, which Gov. Jerry Brown just commented on in a recent State of the State address.
“I think the big question this year is about the budget, and is it really balanced,” Wilk said.
In a State of the State address befitting a Republican, Gov. Jerry Brown laid out a largely conservative vision for California last week, calling for fiscal restraint, streamlined regulations and local control of schools. At one point, he even asked the Legislature to stop passing so many bills.
Brown was at times foreboding, warning of “great risks and uncertainties” lying ahead, but more frequently exulting, boasting that the budget is balanced and that the state, finally, is on track.
The trip will give local residents a chance to voice their concerns in front of an audience of legislators that will be able to address these issues, a rare opportunity that most communities aren’t afforded, said KHTS station owner Carl Goldman. The trip has also spawned a similar voyage to the nation’s capitol later this year, which still has seats available.
Chiang has made headlines several times since first being elected to controller in 2006, most notably during a protracted July 2010 budget battle with former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, after the then-governor tried to slash state worker’s pay. Chiang was re-elected in November 2010.
In July 2010, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order to pay 200,000 state workers the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour as the state wrestles with a budget crisis.
The state controller, who cuts state paychecks, refused to comply with the order. A state appellate court later found that the move was legal.
However, outdated computer systems were later cited as a reason for the order’s “unfeasibility.” Chiang said a fix to the state’s computerized payroll system wouldn’t be ready until October 2012.