No pay for Calif. legislators until budget deal

June 22, 2011

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — California’s budget crisis is getting personal for state lawmakers. Their paychecks have been cut off until they agree on a balanced budget.

A decision Tuesday by state Controller John Chiang puts into effect Proposition 25, a ballot initiative passed last November. Voters decided elected members of the state Assembly and Senate would not be paid if they failed to pass a balanced budget by the constitutional deadline, June 15.

Chiang rejected legislators’ claims that the budget passed last week was balanced. He said it relied on gimmicks, unrealistic assumptions and bad math.

“The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor,” Chiang said.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vetoed the recent budget, saying it relied on budgetary tricks. Under Proposition 25, lawmakers could still get paid after a veto if the budget was in balance, a judgment that fell to the elected controller.

Chiang said the budget passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature was almost $2 billion short: $89.75 billion in spending, $87.9 billion in revenue.

Brown said the shortfall could be covered by extending temporary tax increases, such as on vehicles, which are due to expire July 1 after two years. Republicans have blocked his proposal to extend the taxes or allow voters to consider the issue.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, said Chiang was wrong and accused the controller, also a Democrat, of allowing Republicans “to control the budget process.”

“I continue to maintain that the Legislature met our constitutional duties in passing the budget last week,” Perez said.

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