California Assembly Leaders Single-Handedly Dictate Spending

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California Assembly leaders control a large fund they can use to boost programs of their choice without a single hearing or vote.

Government watchdogs warn such spending has little oversight and a high potential for abuse.

Assembly speakers say it’s a responsible way of helping worthy causes from meals for the elderly to helping veteran’s find work.

The money comes from the legislative body’s roughly $150 million annual budget to hire aides, rent offices and pay other expenses.

A review by The Associated Press found speakers redirected $115 million from these funds between 2008 and 2014. The current leader Toni Atkins of San Diego says she only supports programs with broad support.

The Legislature also risks losing money that isn’t spent under a voter-approved formula that sets its budget.