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Pay Cut: Motivating Factor In Passing State Budget?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For most lawmakers, this paycheck will be almost five-thousand bucks lighter than usual. 

Mitchell: "I'm a working class, single adoptive parent.  Took a pay cut quite frankly to come serve my state and it's very hard."

Democratic Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell says she had a tough chat with her ten-year-old son about the reality of the pay cut.  She says it didn't affect any of her voting decisions…..but:

Mitchell: "It feels a little like extortion and I think that's unfortunate.  I really, really do."

California voters approved the new rule last year.  Proposition 25 says lawmakers permanently forfeit their pay every day after June 15th that they haven't passed a budget.  Democrats did pas a spending plan that day but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it and the State Controller said it wasn't balanced.  Hence, the pay cut.

Huff: "I call this the Paycheck Protection Budget Act of 2011."

That's Republican Senator Bob Huff.  He says the minority party has little control since prop. 25 lets Democrats pass a budget on their own. He says the law is a real motivator:

Huff: "There's only so many days you can go without getting paid and whether there's a legal issue with that or not, that's the reality we're living right now, and so, you know, there's intense pressure to make a decision.  Whether it's right or wrong, just make it and get out of town."

GOP Senate Leader Bob Dutton is less cynical than his colleague: 

Dutton: "There's a constitutional obligation to have a budget done by July 1 and I would like to think  - I'll give them the benefit of the doubt- that that's what they're focusing on and it isn't just to ensure that they get a paycheck."

California's had a budget by the start of the new fiscal year only five other times over the past two decades.

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