Jones stumps for insurance post
Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, did some stumping in the Yuba-Sutter area Sunday in his nascent bid for state insurance commissioner, but not without hearing some tough questions about the state's current financial problems.
Jones, speaking to about 100 attendees at the Yuba-Sutter Democratic Club's annual Jefferson Day dinner at the Plumas Lake Golf & Country Club, said local governments might not take such a blow in current state budget talks if the system didn't give so much power to minority-party Republicans.
"When you say we're not doing our jobs, I beg to differ," Jones said. "We're going to do our job, and it's going to be a really ugly job in the next two weeks because we don't have any money."
Jones, a Sacramento city councilman before he ran for Assembly in 2004, said before the dinner the state budget for fiscal 2009-10 could be less painful if Republicans acknowledge the state has made millions of dollars' worth of cuts already in the last year.
"The question is, are we going to do it just with cuts again?" he said.
The state's deficit for 2009-10 is estimated at upwards of $20 billion, and the state is in danger of running out of money if the situation isn't addressed within days, state officials have said.
In the portion of his speech focused on insurance, Jones told stories of a disabled roofer and the father of a boy with muscular dystrophy who were stymied by insurance companies even though they'd paid into the system.
"Unfortunately, there are far too many stories like that," he said. "These sort of things are outrageous."
Jones said as insurance commissioner, he'd stand up for consumers against insurance companies, and made note of his background working in a free legal help center while in law school, alongside future first lady Michelle Obama.
Sandy Parker, a Marysville resident who'd asked about the state budget, said she wanted to hear more solutions and less partisanship from Jones and other legislators.
While she sympathized with the stories Jones told about recalcitrant insurers, she said, she didn't hear how those situations were resolved.
"I think he's headed in the right direction, but we need more than that," Parker said. "We need to hear about accountability."
Jones, who is termed out of the state Assembly after next year, is the only committed Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner so far. Current Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican, is running for governor next year.
Former Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines, R-Clovis, has also expressed interest in Poizner's job.
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or email@example.com.