With state budget problems festering and vital services being cut left and right, attention has inevitably turned to the state-subsidized leased wheels used by most members of the California legislature. On the assembly side of the Capitol, for instance, Republican Joel Anderson (whose campaign committee is named “TaxFighters for Anderson”) drives a 2006 Chrysler 300 Signature Series sedan, acquired back in January 2006 for $32,373.49, according to a document released by the Assembly Rules Committee. The monthly charge to the assembly budget is $303.48; Anderson pays $39.72. His Democratic colleague Lori Saldaña gets around in a 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid that cost $32,922.63 in December 2004. Saldaña pays $15.55, the state pays $85.95. Democrat Mary Salas uses a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid, acquired by the state in December 2006 for $30,787; monthly budget cost is $267, and Salas pays $35.74. As of early December, Republican Martin Garrick and Democrat Marty Block had not requested a car, according to records provided by the Assembly Rules committee.
And it turns out that members of the San Diego County delegation are only middling when it comes to the cost of their vehicle preferences. The most expensive assembly car is driven by Democrat Isadore Hall of Compton’s 52nd District, a former city council member who was elected this past November. On December 3, Hall, the assistant majority whip, picked a 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid costing $48,500, for which he personally pays $166 a month and the state pays $350. Another new member, Dan Logue, an ex–county supervisor and self-billed “conservative Republican” from Yuba City’s Assembly District 3, whose campaign motto was “standing tall against Liberalism,” also selected a Chevy Tahoe; it cost $48,499.99, a penny less than Hall’s; his payment arrangements are the same. Close behind both was Michael Villines of Fresno’s 29th District, another Republican, and the leader of budget-slashing efforts. He drives a 2008 Toyota Highlander worth $48,402. It costs the state $350 a month, and he pays $164.83.