America

Coincidence? Their Pay Withheld, California Lawmakers Strike Budget Deal

The very popular (among voters) decision by California State Controller John Chiang to cut off state legislators' paychecks until they passed a balanced budget seems to have had the desired effect.

Last night, California's legislature "passed an austerity budget," the Los Angeles Times writes, "that would cut from universities, courts and the poor, shutter 70 parks and threaten schools."

And, the Times adds:

"[Gov. Jerry] Brown's signature on the budget would cap a tumultuous two weeks in Sacramento. His rejection of the initial spending plan that Democrats passed was the first veto of a budget on record in California. The state controller then halted lawmakers' pay after deeming their first try unbalanced.

"The controller's office said Tuesday that he does not have the authority to review the latest plan if it is signed by the governor. That would restart lawmakers' pay. The rank-and-file have forfeited nearly $5,000 each since June 15."

Brown is expected to sign the legislation, which was pushed through by his fellow Democrats, before Friday's start of the next fiscal year.

Syndicated columnist Thomas Elias writes for the Mercury News that

California State Controller John Chiang. i i

California State Controller John Chiang. Rich Pedroncelli/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Rich Pedroncelli/AP
California State Controller John Chiang.

California State Controller John Chiang.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

"Legislators acted far faster than usual, their agreement with Brown coming less than 10 days after Chiang's action and just 12 days after Brown's mid-June veto of a Democratic-sponsored budget he labeled as likely to be found at least partly illegal.

"Where legislators in previous years often went days, even weeks, without publicly debating the budget after they missed a constitutional June 15 deadline, suddenly they were meeting on weekends. No backyard barbecues or visits with constituents for these folks, not until they got the job done."

He notes the "bleating" and "whining" from legislators over Chiang's action, which had been mandated by a proposition passed by voters last year.

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