Skelton: Controller should stay out of budget battle
California lawmakers became so notorious for dragging budget negotiations through the summer, voters amended the constitution two years ago to dock their pay if they don't meet their June 15 deadline.
That deadline is Friday, and in Thursday's column George Skelton looks back at last year's controversy involving Controller John Chiang.
Although lawmakers passed a budget on time, Chiang withheld their pay anyway, saying their spending plan didn't add up. In April, a judge said the controller overstepped his authority and barred him from doing it again.
Skelton says that Chiang was right about the poorly balanced budget but wrong to withhold lawmakers’ pay.
"Docking legislators’ pay for passing a cruddy budget may have been good populist politics, but it was lousy public policy," he wrote.
Skelton added, "Then there could be a mischievous, demagogic controller — especially of a rival party — who would cut off legislators’ pay just to advance his gubernatorial ambitions. Better to keep the branches separate and equal."
Photo: California Controller John Chiang speaks on a panel in Beverly Hills in 2011. Credit: Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg