C’mon, Henry, pay up.

Assemblyman Henry Perea’s decision to quit the legislature early to take a presumably higher-paying job has sparked ideas about what to do in such situations. No one likes the costly, low-turnout special elections currently required. Some say the governor or the legislature itself should fill such positions. I believe it’s an argument for having voters cast ballots for party lists, instead of individual politicians.

In the meantime, there’s a strong case that politician who quits early for money should have to pay for any special election. George Skelton put it simply: “Require the deserting lawmaker to pay for the special election he caused.”

That’s a fine principle. But action would even better – and we could get it in Perea’s case. As Skelton and others have pointed out, Perea has access to $1 million in campaign accounts. And there’s nothing to stop him from donating the money to cover the cost of elections.

A smart Sacramento political operative put it to me this way: “I don’t begrudge him the opportunity to cash out and provide a very comfortable life for his family, but in order to get his huge pot of gold, he’s costing taxpayers $500k, an amount that he could easily cover from his political account.”

It’s time for some public shaming, including from his own constituents.

Pay up, Henry.