28. Rick Simpson
Winston Churchill once famously remarked: “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Winston might well have been speaking of California’s public school funding formula, a proposition that bedevils most who try to understand it, even Capitol veterans. But Rick Simpson can make sense of it all, and he can even explain it clearly to lawmakers and reporters. His official title is deputy chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, but his real role is to serve as the Assembly’s No. 1 guru on K-12 school financing. He’s held that senior position under a succession of speakers. He came to his longtime job after holding various posts in the Capitol. Although Simpson is a master of the arcane detail, he is also acutely aware of public education’s role in the larger world of public policy formation and has been a frequent commentator on the subject. Another hat for Simpson: He is a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the state panel that investigates and disciplines judges.
Updated Aug. 9, 2016