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Controller is in no rush to implement pay cuts

July 2, 2010 |  4:31 pm

The courts may have ruled the governor can reduce state worker pay to minimum wage amid a budget impasse, but state Controller John Chiang says the pay cuts won't necessarily happen anytime soon, if at all.

Chiang, who controls the government payroll, said Friday's court ruling that he must follow the governor's order to cut salaries does not consider the technical challenges involved. He said reprogramming the state payroll computers to make such salary adjustments is no simple task.

"This is not a simple software problem," Chiang said. "Reducing pay and then restoring it in a timely manner once a budget is enacted cannot be done without gross violations of law unless and until the state completes its overhaul of the state payroll system and payroll laws are changed. I will move quickly to ask the courts to definitively resolve the issue of whether our current payroll system is capable of complying with the minimum wage order."

He warned that if the pay cuts are not implemented properly, taxpayers could be exposed to "billions of dollars in fines and penalties" resulting from violations of state and federal labor laws.

What does the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger think of Chiang's claim that reprogramming the state's payroll system may just be too big of an undertaking? "It is absurd," said administration spokesman Aaron McLear.

--Evan Halper

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