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Controller appeals decision on California lawmakers' pay

July 2, 2012 |  4:19 pm

Controller appeals decision on California lawmakers' payCalifornia Controller John Chiang on Monday appealed a recent court decision that said he lacked authority to dock legislators' pay last year after he determined the budget they passed was not balanced.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David I. Brown ruled May 8 that the Legislature met its obligation to continue receiving pay when it sent the governor a bill that, "on its face" proposed spending that does not exceed revenue.

"The court’s decision did not reflect the will of the voters who passed Proposition 25,'' said Jacob Roper, a spokesman for Chiang. "We believe there’s a strong case to be made on appeal.''

The notice of appeal filed with Judge Brown did not include arguments for why his decision should be reconsidered. At issue is Proposition 25, approved by California’s voters in 2010, which allowed the Legislature to approve state budgets with a simple majority instead of a two-thirds majority, but also said legislators must give up their salary and daily expenses for each day the state goes beyond the deadline without a budget.

When Chiang withheld pay in 2011, his decision was challenged in a lawsuit by state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles). The appeal was filed on Chiang's behalf by Deputy Atty. Gen. Ross C. Moody.

The court decision, according to Roper, "did not address a basic problem with the Legislature’s case: that the controller has a duty to make only appropriated and valid payments. He must review the appropriateness of any payment to be made from the state treasury. Without passage of a balanced budget by June 15, Proposition 25 suspends the appropriation of legislator salaries.''


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Controller John Chiang on Monday appealed a court decision saying he could not dock legislators' pay if he disagrees with them over whether the budget they pass is balanced. Credit: Richard Hartog  Los Angeles Times