Editor's Note: Pérez spoke in an interview with Capital Public Radio Monday. To hear the interview that aired on Tuesday's Insight, click the "Listen Now" link above.
Perez: "If there were a silver bullet that could come up in a special session, we would have seen it come up through the regular legislative year."
Instead, Pérez pointed to bills his Democratic majority passed that he believes will help. They include changes to the state's regulatory system … and two measures that would streamline California's environmental review process for some large development projects.
Perez: "The frustrating thing for the electorate and the frustrating thing for us as elected officials is, you can't legislate a good economy. You can do certain things to make business operate in a more fluid way as it interacts with the state. But you can't just legislate economic change."
The Speaker did say a special session would be worthwhile if Republicans agreed to support a package of tax changes Governor Jerry Brown announced just before lawmakers left Sacramento.
Criticism Over his Leadership Style
Speaker Pérez has taken heat for a public spat with one of his Democratic Assembly members who voted against the state budget. His push to disincorporate a tiny industrial city in Los Angeles County with a history of corruption stalled. He's even been accused of blocking bills written by lawmakers who crossed him. But in a rare interview, the speaker insisted he has strong working relationships both inside and outside the Capitol.
Perez: "We have the greatest level of unity in the Democratic caucus - and quite frankly in the Assembly - that we've had in a long time. Had we not, we wouldn't have been able to get the solutions that we did this year. Had we not, I wouldn't have been able to put together the key Republican votes on a variety of issues."
… like Governor Jerry Brown's package of tax changes that passed the Assembly with a two-thirds supermajority but stalled in the Senate. Pérez also says a comprehensive budget deal would have had enough Republican support to pass the Assembly had it ever come up for a vote.
Undecided on 2012 Tax Measure
Perez: "I'm open to anything that is generating revenues that is not overly onerous on a specific part of the economy and that helps us grow our way out of the morass that we're in."
The speaker's position appears to match that of business groups. The California Chamber of Commerce has signaled it's open to supporting taxes as part of a broader solution - but not industry-specific ones, like an oil severance tax.
Pérez also says it's important to make sure the revenues aren't earmarked for specific causes. He says he wants to give the legislature some flexibility.
Perez: "One of the problems California has is that we have so dedicated specific revenue streams for specific purposes that when you get into moments of economic crisis like the one we're in right now, we limit our options."