California's Controller: 'The Legislature will forfeit their pay'

The 120 members of the California Legislature got a crash course in reality on Tuesday.  John Chiang, the state's controller took the unprecedented step of fulfilling his constitutional responsibility by stopping pay for the state's lawmakers.  The Sacramento Bee reports that Chiang's decision is based upon his interpretation of Proposition 25 which was passed by voters in last November's election.  Proposition 25 requires that the legislature pass a balanced budget by June 15th or they must permanently forfeit their pay and per diem until an acceptable budget is passed.


"My office's careful review of the recently-passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished," Chiang said in a statement.  "The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the Governor."


The controller said he determined that the Democratic budget spend $89.75 billion but only provided $87.9 billion in revenues, leaving a $1.85 billion imbalance.


Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) accused Chiang (a fellow Democrat) of handing the Republicans control over the budget process in a manner "inconsistent with the intent of Proposition 25."  Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) claims that he has lost $2,000 in pay and expenses thus far.  Calderon said "We've done our job and given a balanced budget.  We are being treated like children and punished for politics."


Chiang has determined that the majority-vote plan Democrats sent to Gov. Jerry Brown last week was not a "balanced" budget and therefore did not meet lawmakers' constitutional obligation for timely passage of a spending plan.  Brown immediately vetoed the budget Thursday, less than 16 hours after passage, dubbing it "not a balanced solution" and noting that it relied on legally questionable solutions.




"While the vetoed budget contains solutions of questionable achievability and some to which I am personally opposed, current law provides no authority for my office to second guess then in my enforcement of Proposition 25," Chiang said.  "My job is not to substitute my policy judgment for that of the Legislature and the Governor, rather it is to be the honest-broker of the numbers."


Until the Legislature can pass an acceptable budget the lawmakers will not receive their salary or daily expense money which will save the taxpayers of California nearly $50,000 per day.  If only our friends in Washington D.C. were subject such wise legal constraints.


June 22, 2010


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