California Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) received the 2010 Profile in Courage Award today for her humane approach to solving the California budget crisis.
"What this award stands for is the belief that we can make things better," said Bass. "Last year, overcoming over $60 billion in budget deficits was the most politically trying experience I have ever dealt with. Even though it sometimes felt like the work would never truly be finished, I knew that we had to keep going. There were just too many people; too many businesses; too many jobs depending on us."
The Profile in Courage Award, the nation's most prestigious award for elected public servants, was bestowed upon Bass and three fellow legislative leaders for their commitment to preserving a safety net for the people of California even through a $42 billion budget deficit.
"My father believed very deeply that politics is a noble profession, because it often demands courage to act in the public interest when party politics and public opinion encourage a different course," said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. "They knew their agreement would have painful and far-reaching consequences for California and its people," Kennedy continued. "They knew their compromise would be taken as a betrayal of their constituents, their political parties, and their own principles and ideals. But they took seriously their responsibility to govern. They knew it was more important to try to solve the problem than to stand on politics or even on principle. They stood by their decision and accepted the consequences of it.