Botched budget means no pay for California lawmakers

Discussion in 'The Red Room' started by Chuck, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck Go Giants!

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    Botched budget means no pay for California lawmakers

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The man who cuts California's paychecks has a costly message for lawmakers who tried to meet a voter-imposed deadline with the budget they passed last week: Not good enough.

    Controller John Chiang took the rare step Tuesday of halting paychecks for all 120 state lawmakers after he reviewed the budget Democrats approved and determined it was not balanced. Chiang, a Democrat, said lawmakers therefore did not meet the requirement for getting paid under Proposition 25, which voters approved in November to get the Legislature to approve balanced budgets on time.

    The situation might at least help California balance its books, since taxpayers save $48,603.50 every day lawmakers don't get a salary and per diem. Lawmakers can start receiving their salaries and expenses again once they pass a balanced budget, but they won't be paid retroactively for the days the budget was late.

    The decision sparked sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers and could be challenged in court. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said Chiang decided to withhold pay for political reasons.

    "I halted a fulfilling private sector career path to enter public service. I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won't be able to pay the bills because a politician chose to grandstand at our expense," Gatto said.

    Under Proposition 25, lawmakers don't get their salary or living expenses if they miss their budget deadline of June 15 each year. The measure gives the state controller the authority to judge whether revenues matched or exceeded state spending.

    Proposition 25, the "on-time budget act," was born out of frustration with California's late budgets, which stall pay for some state workers and vendors.

    Chiang's decision marks the first time the unique initiative has been put to use.

    Few other states have late budget problems, according to Arturo Perez of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. Only New York and Guam withhold pay from lawmakers if they fail to meet their budget deadline, he said.

    California's measure is different because lawmakers don't get retroactive pay, Perez said.

    "The issue of late budgets is alien to most states," he said.

    For California lawmakers who earn $95,291 a year :polarslam2:, it means they'll receive $261 less for each day their salary is cut. For leaders of the Senate and Assembly who make $109,584, that works out to $300 per day.

    Most lawmakers also lose out on a $142 per diem for travel and living expenses.

    Chiang, whose office issues paychecks, found the Democratic package passed by a simple majority did not meet the requirements for a balanced budget because portions were "miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished." He said it committed the state to $89.8 billion in spending but provided only $87.9 billion in revenues, leaving a hole of about $1.9 billion.

    "Part of the reason the budget didn't balance is that they were engaged in some of the past practices that worked in earlier years but that do not work today under the new reality," Chiang told The Associated Press.

    Chiang's analysis found much of the imbalance comes from underfunding education by $1.3 billion. Underfunding is not possible without suspending the state's education funding law, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. That was not done in this case.

    The Democrats' budget also counted on hospital fees, taxes on managed-care plans and vehicle registration charges, but the Legislature never passed the bills needed to collect those revenues, Chiang said.

    Lawmakers said they believed that action allowed them to continue receiving paychecks. But Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the package, saying he didn't want to see billions more in borrowing or questionable maneuvers.

    "The controller has made his determination. We should all work together to pass a solid budget," Brown said.

    Democratic lawmakers said they were disappointed by the controller's decision. They said Chiang's decision would not help budget negotiations with Republicans.

    "The controller is, in effect, allowing legislative Republicans to control the budget process, and I believe that's a very unfortunate outcome that is inconsistent with the intent of Proposition 25," Assembly Speaker John Perez said in a statement. Perez endorsed the measure last fall.

    Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, applauded the controller "on this difficult decision." He has a bill, SCA 12, clarifying that the controller has the authority to determine whether a budget is balanced.

    The leader of the Senate had warned Monday that for Chiang to decide whether lawmakers passed a balanced budget sets a bad example for the state's balance of power.

    "I think it is a bad precedent ... for anybody in the executive branch to question the quality of a budget passed by the Legislature. Because to do so shifts the balance of powers in what is supposed to be coequal branches of government in a way that I think is dangerous," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said.

    Chiang said he was not playing politics, but following the law.

    "The decisions we make in this office are incredibly difficult, but we call it straight. In many senses we view ourselves as a neutral umpire. We call balls and strikes," he said.

    Brown has signed into law about $11.2 billion in cuts and fund transfers, but the state still faces a $9.6 billion budget deficit through July 2012. He and Democratic leaders want to extend a series of recent tax hikes to help close the shortfall but so far have been unable to get GOP support for that plan.

    Two Republican votes in each house are needed to meet the two-thirds vote threshold for higher taxes or to place the question before voters.

    The state's fiscal year starts July 1.
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  2. Uncle Albert

    Uncle Albert Part beard. Part machine.

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  3. Ward

    Ward A Stepford Husband

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    suh-weet!!!
  4. actormike

    actormike Okay, Connery...

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    The budget problems here run much deeper than anything that can be accompished by not paying legislators. Prop 25 is just feel-good nonsense.
  5. John Castle

    John Castle Banned Writer

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    Bet your ass they'll bust theirs doing the work they're supposed to be doing if this sticks.
  6. Bulldog

    Bulldog Only Pawn in Game of Life

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    Can we do this with Congress, too?
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  7. Order2Chaos

    Order2Chaos Ultimate... Immortal Administrator

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    This is excellent, especially given that the only reason they passed this budget despite knowing the governor would veto it, was because they didn't want to lose pay. Greedy scumbags.
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  8. Fisherman's Worf

    Fisherman's Worf I am the Seaman, I am the Walrus, Qu-Qu-Qapla'!

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    Good. I'm glad Brown and Chiang had the balls.
  9. Tamar Garish

    Tamar Garish Wanna Snuggle? Deceased Member

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    All politicians should be held to the fire like this.

    Maybe if there was personal consequences they would do the job right.

    It's the same reason any healthcare they want to inflict on everyone should be their policy as well.
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  10. John Castle

    John Castle Banned Writer

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    Y'know, balancing the budget is part of their jobs. It's one of the tasks on the to-do list their boss -- the people of California -- has told them to do. Any of those same people don't do their job, what do they get? Very possibly fired.

    That's exactly what these snotty legislators ought to get. Instead, they're cryin' like a bunch of little babies about getting off easy.
  11. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    OK. The quick and dirty math on the calculator tells me that a $142 per diem times 365 works out to...$51,830 a year. Maybe they only get per diem for workdays. Irregardless, while that isn't at the top end of salaries I'd work for, it is definitely in the ballpark. If someone wanted to hire me to do IT, project management, marketing, or leadership coaching at a salary of $51K, I'd take it and run with it.

    For these guys, that is just what they've decided they need to get through a day--walkin' around money, as it were. They get another $100K on top of that.
  12. Muad Dib

    Muad Dib Probably a Dual Deceased Member

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    I'm all for a $10,000 fine or penalty per occurrence to be levied against every legislator that votes for a bill, and every executive who signs it, that is deemed to be unconstitutional.

    Threaten to hit 'em in the pocketbook and they might actually read the Constitution and the bills they're voting for and signing.
  13. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey i can see my house

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    so in the last few years, we've seen CALIFORNIA recall a governor and now hold it's politicians to doing their jobs if they want to get paid.

    Many examples of this in other states, or is CA leading the way in responsible government?
  14. KatyJane

    KatyJane Professional Lurker

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    MN needs to try this. They're facing yet another government shut down because they can't get the budget passed. All non-essential services will be stopped but those legislators are still going to get paid so whats their personal motivation to stop quibbling with each other and come to a compromise?
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  15. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    Funny, and I recall you being in favor of prop 25.
  16. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    Some of us knew this is the type of thing the Democrats in the state legislature would pull when Prop 25 was being touted as the solution of the states budget problems. The Democrats created a budget that first and foremost did not balance the budget. The budget they submitted included new taxes, among them were higher sales taxes and higher vehicle licensing taxes. All of those things still require a 2/3's vote from either the voters or the legislature. They past a scham budget and knew it.

    I also don't think the voters in California were particularly interested in changing number of votes required to pass the budget. What they saw was that when the budget isn't passed on time, the legislature would be punished because they would not be paid and even after the budget is passed, they do not get back that lost pay. Which is what happened prior to Prop 25. The legislature would only lose their pay during the days that the budget wasn't on time. As soon as the budget was passed, they received all their back pay.

    What's even funnier to me, is Assemblyman Gatto whose district office is in Burbank, California has been bitching about being broke and now because of this not being able to pay his bills. He claims that he has made a sacrifice by being a member of the assembly because he could make oh so much more in the private sector. Well, if that's true, shut up and get a job in the private sector. :shrug:

    Darrel Steinberg another Democratic member of the legislature that supported Prop 25, is now claiming withholding his pay is illegal and unconstitutional.

    Here's the bottom line, these men and woman in the California State Legislature have not been doing their job for a long time.

    Our US Congress isn't any better. Let's not forget they did not have a budget on time either and in fact, a new Congress had to do the job that the last Congress did not do. Their budget was far later than California's ever has been.
  17. actormike

    actormike Okay, Connery...

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    Looks like the state is going to pass a budget, without the extensions to the tax cuts, and balanced on $4bn of projected revenues that might or might not come in.

    If not, it'll be the usual cuts to services for kids, the poor and the elderly. Yay!
  18. The Exception

    The Exception The One Who Will Be Administrator Super Moderator

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    I'm in favor of fining them for not reading bills, but for voting for something that is later found to be unconstitutional is a bit stupid. Different people have different interpretations of constitutionality.
  19. John Castle

    John Castle Banned Writer

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    Nah, do it anyway. If anything, it will make them wary of passing any law. What, do they have a quota on passing laws? If they don't pass some set minimum number of laws, do they get fired or something?
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  20. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 RadioNinja

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    The voters of California voted for Prop 25 I can't see that it does any harm and if it makes them feel good that's more than some laws do. California is closer to pulling it's collective head out of its ass than Florida.
  21. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    The budget is based in large part of dreamed up increases increases in revenue. The same rosey predictions they do every fucking year. So, come September, they will be up in arms again whining about revenues being smaller than projected, and etc.

    The budget does not include any needed reforms. It does not address the problem with state employee retirements. It does not take into consideration the increases in benefits and salaries to groups like the State Department of Corrections.

    The so called cuts to education, are not in fact cuts. The state is required to spend a set percentage of the budget on education. The so called cuts are decreases in money the schools should never have been receiving to begin with.
  22. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    The California legislature knew what they were passing last week when they sent a budget that included a slew of illegal taxes in it.
  23. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    How exactly do you figure that? By a budget that has no needed reforms in how this state spends money? It is simply more of the same crap they have been passing and approving for years now.
  24. Powaqqatsi

    Powaqqatsi Haters gonna hate.

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    Not really, they'll just slap together some weak psuedo-balanced bullshit like always.
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  25. Asyncritus

    Asyncritus Expert on everything

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    I would agree with this if various courts hadn't ruled various things "unconstitutional" on the most spurious of grounds. How do you define the difference between "This is really contradictory to the Constitution" and "Some judges (maybe even on SCOTUS) are reinterpreting the Constitution again so it says what they wish it said"?

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  26. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    This may be neither here nor there, but I'm on record as thinking recalling a legally elected governor is horseshit. (Unless, of course, they are doing something illegal in their job.) Gray Davis was an idiot. Anyone that lived in California while Gray Davis was in office should've known he was an idiot. It was that obvious.

    But the people of California reelected him. You know what? Tough. At that point, deal with him for the next 3+ years. Don't elect someone and a year later say "This guy's an idiot. Do over! Do over! I call 'do over.'" You live with the consequences of your stupid decisions.
  27. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 RadioNinja

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    That's what we're stuck with in Florida. Rick Scott won fair and square and now he has an approval rating of 29% at a time when a new governor's ratings traditionally go through the roof. I knew what this guy was and wanted nothing to do with him. If I had moved outside the state I'd be laughing right now. As it is, I'm sitting here watching this crook do his best to ruin this place. Sure we have people protesting whereever he shows up and some are calling for a recall (not provided for in the Constitution). My feeling: you wanted him, you got him and you can damn well live with it and maybe, just maybe, you'll remember this the next time some sleazebag with too much money and too much time on his hands decides to run on a platform of running government like a business.
  28. KIRK1ADM

    KIRK1ADM Bored Being

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    Volpone CA lives with the consequences of its decision everyday. :shrug:
  29. Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee

    Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee Straight Awesome

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    Yeah, but MN's problem isn't all the legislature - it's that stupid faggot Governor Dayton.
  30. Zombie

    Zombie dead and loving it

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    Actually what you saw was the people get rid of a bad governor without getting rid of the idiots in the state house and senate who were just as bad as the governor, elect a new governor who turned out to suck, and continued to let the fools in the state house and senate fuck things up.

    It was only sheer luck that the people paid enough attention to even pass Prop 25.

    And even with Prop 25 it just says you have to get the budget passed on time. It doesn't say anything about actually passing a good budget.

    So no CA is not leading the way in responsible government.