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No state budget equals no pay for lawmakers

June 23, 2011

John Chiang

Legislators of the Golden State have yet to pass a budget and now these elected officials will not get paid for each day it continues to go unbalanced and unsigned by the governor.
State Controller John Chiang decided this week to enforce two separate voter-approved measures: one that requires a balanced budget and one that holds lawmakers accountable for failing to meet the first mandate.
In November 2010, voters approved Proposition 25 imposing the loss of pay for lawmakers when a balanced budget is not in place. In 2004, voters passed Proposition 58 which requires a balanced state budget, meaning expenditures and debt payments do not exceed revenues.
According to a press release, Chiang has found an imbalance of $1.85 billion in the Democratic June 15 proposal that tries to bridge the $35 billion budget deficit.
“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.”
On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown issued the following statement in response to Chiang’s decision: “The controller has made his determination. We should all work together to pass a solid budget.”
Brown vetoed the Democrats’ budget proposal on June 16, the day after a budget was due. He said in a press release that the proposal included “costly borrowing and unrealistic savings.”
According to the Department of Finance records, no California governor has vetoed a spending plan since 1901.
A Democrat, Brown has said that he blames Republicans for state lawmakers’ failure to come up with an acceptable plan.
Brown wants to have voters decide whether to extend soon-to-expire tax increases. He needs the votes of four Republican lawmakers to move ahead with the extension plan and has yet to find them.
Brown was quoted by Reuters as saying, “If a handful of Republicans will not vote to let the people exercise their sovereign right to say yes on tax extensions or no then we’re in a much more difficult place. And the more deeper cuts to schools and universities, it’s going to be on their hands.”
Brown’s veto of his party’s budget has reportedly created a rift in the state’s Democratic party.
“We are deeply dismayed,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told the Los Angeles Times. “The governor, I think, is … a little bit confused between total victory … and progress.”
The state’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

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