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Pay Cut: Motivating Factor For Lawmakers on Budget?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No budget, no paycheck.  That was the message from California voters when they approved proposition 25 last year.  The ballot measure says for each day after June 15th that lawmakers haven't passed a balanced budget, they permanently lose their pay.

Huff: "It's a factor, but I gotta say, it's not a healthy one."

That's Republican Senator and Budget Chair Bob Huff.  He says the pay threat is on his mind - but it doesn't change anything:

Huff: "It's not going to make me compromise my values, no.  I'll live in a tent on the street if I have to, but I'm not going to support a tax increase."

Democratic Assemblyman Jim Beall says he and his wife of 28 years are frugal and could weather a pay cut - however:

Beall:"She gives me an allowance and I just get X amount every month and that's it, but she has mentioned that my allowance will go down if we don't approve the budget."

Most years lawmakers don't get paid after July first if there's no spending plan - but they get that back pay later. This year they'd lose the money altogether.  That's a motivator, says Jack Pitney, a Professor of Politics at Claremont-McKenna College:

Pitney:  "A lot of it is just simply that they want the paychecks so if that requires them to pass a gimmicky budget in the middle of June, that's what they're going to do."

In fact, Democrats have two different budgets ready to go. One requires Republican votes.  It would temporarily extend tax increases, until voters decide whether to keep them this fall.  The other wouldn't include taxes, so the remaining 10 billion dollar deficit would be eliminated through other sources.  That one, Democrats can pass by themselves.  Given the lack of a deal so far, that's the most likely option.
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