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Court: Chiang shouldn’t have held lawmakers’ pay

By Josh Richman
Friday, January 24th, 2014 at 2:48 pm in Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, John Chiang, John Perez, state budget.

State Controller John Chiang overstepped his legal authority in 2011 by deciding to dock lawmakers’ paychecks because he deemed the budget they had passed to be unbalanced, a state appellate court ruled Friday.

“(W)here the Legislature is the entity acting indisputably within its fundamental constitutional jurisdiction to enact what it designates as a balanced budget, the Controller does not have audit authority to determine whether the budget bill is in fact balanced,” Court of Appeal Associate Justice M. Kathleen Butz wrote; associate justices Cole Blease and William Murray Jr. concurred in this affirmation of a lower court’s 2012 decision.

Proposition 25 of 2010, approved by 55 percent of voters, lets the Legislature approve budges on a simple-majority vote, but it also says lawmakers must forfeit their pay and per diems for each day the state is past its constitutional deadline without a budget.

Chiang announced in June 2011 that his office’s review of the budget, which had been passed on the day it was due, “found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished. The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor.” He ended up withholding about $583,000 from the lawmakers.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, sued on principle, without seeking recovery of that back pay.

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  • Willis James

    “Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and state Senate President Pro TemDarrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, sued on principle”

    Oh yes, men of “principle”.

    I remember Darrell Steinberg coming to the East Bay in the aftermath of Mary Hayashi’s arrest and conviction, with Steinberg telling the residents of her district that she, while still on 3 years probation, will continue to give them the same quality representation if the citizens will only elect her to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

    Yes, Darrell Steinberg, a man of “principle”. He cares.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    RoKha should compensate Perez and Steinberg to demonstrate his commitment to integrity in high office.