Chiang: Lawmakers won’t get paid

The state budget passed by legislative Democrats but vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week was incomplete and unbalanced, according to state Controller John Chiang’s analysis, so lawmakers failed to meet Proposition 25’s requirement of a balanced budget by June 15 and will have to forfeit their pay since that date.

“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.”

Chiang’s news release noted nothing in the California Constitution or state law gives the state controller authority to judge the honesty, legitimacy or viability of a budget; the controller can only determine whether the expected revenues will equal or exceed planned expenditures in the budget.

“While the vetoed budget contains solutions of questionable achievability and some to which I am personally opposed, current law provides no authority for my office to second-guess them in my enforcement of Proposition 25,” Chiang said. “My job is not to substitute my policy judgment for that of the Legislature and the Governor, rather it is to be the honest-broker of the numbers.”

Using this standard, Chiang said, his analysis found that the recently-vetoed budget committed the State to $89.75 billion in spending, but only provided $87.9 billion in revenues, leaving an imbalance of $1.85 billion. The largest problem involved the guaranteed level of education funding under Proposition 98. The June 15 budget underfunded education by more than $1.3 billion. Underfunding is not possible without suspending Proposition 98, which would require a supermajority (two-thirds) vote of the Legislature.

The budget also counted on $320 million in hospital fees, $103 million in taxes on managed-care plans, and $300 million in vehicle registration charges. However, the Legislature never passed the bills necessary to collect or spend those funds as part of the State budget.

Click here for a summary of Chiang’s analysis, and check back here as the day goes on for howls of indignation from certain lawmakers…

UPDATE @ 1:39 P.M.: From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“While I respect the Controller’s efforts to render a decision within the guidelines of our Constitution, I believe he was wrong. I continue to maintain that the Legislature met our constitutional duties in passing the budget last week. We carried out our responsibility to pass a budget reflecting all the options available to close the deficit without new revenues and without cuts so deep as to cost the state jobs and jeopardize our economic recovery. The Controller is, in effect, allowing Legislative Republicans to control the budget process and I believe that’s a very unfortunate outcome that is inconsistent with the intent of Proposition 25. In the coming days, we will be taking additional budget action informed by the Controller’s analysis, and consistent with the values of the budget we passed last week.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“The Controller has made his determination. We should all work together to pass a solid budget.”

UPDATE @ 2:39 P.M.: From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“In spite of the Assembly Speaker’s whining, the only person controlling the budget is the Governor and he’s avoided doing the right thing since the day he took office. Rather than try to ram through a 27% increase in government spending over the next three years, Jerry Brown needs to drop his massive tax plan, take this year’s revenue increases and present a no-gimmicks, no-tax-increase budget right away.

“If the governor is serious about solving this budget problem today, he should work with Republican leadership and present a workable budget proposal tomorrow.”

UPDATE @ 3:29 P.M.: From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“The Controller’s decision today sets a dangerous precedent. The impact on legislative members is real, but it pales in comparison to the impact on school children, the elderly, and the men and women who protect our safety. This decision will not change our commitment and obligation to stand for the people we represent.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Hooray for John Chiang!

    In the immortal words of e.e. cummings:

    “There is some **** I will not eat.”

  • Doug

    Did we accidentally do it? Did we get a couple of adults into positions to have a meaningful effect on the running of this state??

  • Wendy Lack

    @ Elwood:

    Don’t get your hopes up. Steinberg won’t go down without a fight.

    Same old Democratic legislative majority . . . different day, same old games.

    Meantime, there can be no tax “extensions” after the temporary tax hikes expire next month, so any tax measure placed on the ballot will be labeled as “new” — and will be darned near impossible to get passed.

    The Golden State hits the skids — it sure ain’t pretty.