Not so quick!
Controller: legislators will not collect their pay
(06-21) 12:47 PDT Sacramento --
The budget passed by the Legislature on June 15 was incomplete and unbalanced and lawmakers will not receive any pay until they approve a balanced spending plan, Controller John Chiang announced today.
The controller's decision has been highly anticipated at the Capitol since Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a budget plan passed by only Democrats on a majority vote.
Chiang found that the budget authorized $89.75 billion in spending, but revenues totaled only $87.9 billion, leaving an imbalance of $1.85 billion.
"My office's careful review of the recently-passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished," Chiang said. "The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor."
Lawmaker reaction to the news was immediate.
"I halted a fulfilling private sector career path to enter public service. I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won't be able to pay the bills because a politician chose to grandstand at our expense," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. "California has officially degenerated into a Banana Republic, with one branch of government withholding the pay of another. I wonder if the controller plans on withholding the pay of judges if he disagrees with one of their decisions."
The controller made the determination based on two voter approved initiatives pertaining to the state budget. Prop. 25, passed by 55 percent of voters last November, strips lawmakers of their salary and any reimbursement for travel and living expenses if they do not pass a budget by midnight on June 15, the constitutional deadline.
While a budget was passed by the deadline last week, the question has become whether that budget was actually balanced. Another voter initiative, Prop. 58 passed in 2004, requires that the Legislature adopt a balanced budget. Earlier this month, when Chiang first weighed in on the issue, he said the requirements of both measures had to be fulfilled by the Legislature in order for lawmakers to continue receiving pay.
In his budget veto message, the governor wrote that, "Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution." Brown said that the spending plan contained "legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings."
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer had also questioned whether the budget was balanced.
Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, released a statement about Chiang's determination that said, "While I respect the Controller's efforts to render a decision within the guidelines of our Constitution, I believe he was wrong. I continue to maintain that the Legislature met our constitutional duties in passing the budget last week."
The speaker said the Assembly would take "additional budget action" in the coming days.
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