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State Controller To Lawmakers: No Balanced Budget, No Paycheck

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Controller John Chiang says it came down to basic addition and subtraction:

CHIANG: "We did the math and the budget does not balance on paper."

Under proposition 25, which voters passed last year, lawmakers forfeit their pay after June 15th if they haven't passed a budget. Democrats pushed through a majority vote budget last week that was vetoed by Governor Brown.  Chiang says it wasn't the veto - but the fact that he found the budget unbalanced that informed his decision:

CHIANG:  "This is obviously very challenging but we have to make sure that we follow the law.  This is a nation and state of laws, and so, you make the decision, you call the numbers correctly, you have to make sure that you have the numbers accurately if California is going to move forward."

Chiang says the spending plan was nearly two billion dollars out-of-balance.  He says it underfunded schools and it included some revenue from bills that lawmakers didn't pass. 
Some state lawmakers expect the conflict over their paychecks to end up in the courts.  Democratic Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield says Controller John Chiang's  decision to withhold legislators' pay sets a dangerous precedent and he expects it to be resolved through the legal system:

BLUMENFIELD: "Something like this that is so clearly a breach of authority is clearly going to be litigated.  It's just not in his purview to decide on the merits of what is and isn't an appropriate legislative solution."

Blumenfield says the Controller's decision sets up a constitutional crisis by threatening the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. 

Republican Senator Sam Blakeslee applauds Chiang's decision.  He says utilizing the Controller's office in such a way will return accountability to the budget process. 


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