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Chiang responds to Schwarzenegger lawsuit

July 7, 2010 |  9:30 am

Controller John Chiang has responded to a lawsuit filed by the Schwarzenegger administration seeking an injunction to force Chiang to slash the wages of roughly 200,000 state workers as the state's budget stalemate drags on.

Schwarzenegger has ordered state employee pay to be reduced to the federal minimum wage during the standoff. Chiang has thus far refused to comply.

Hallye Jordan, a spokeswoman for Chiang, took Tuesday's legal maneuvering in stride.

"We are not surprised that the governor would sue, again, instead of working with us to address the infeasibility of slashing salaries of more than 200,000 state employees to the federal minimum wage," she said. "Absent changes to state payroll laws and the completion of the state's payroll system overhaul, these reductions cannot be made without violating both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the state Constitution, exposing taxpayers to billions of dollars in damages and fines."

Another spokesman for Chiang, Jacob Roper, said Tuesday that the controller's office was weighing its options and was considering filing a suit of its own to challenge last week's ruling that the salaries be rolled back.

"Withholding pay from state employees until a budget is enacted does nothing to solve the budget deficit, but will only make it worse," Jordan said. "The controller will pursue any legal avenue needed to protect Californians from the governor's reckless executive order."

-- Anthony York in Sacramento