June 21, 2011 / 8:08 PM / 8 years ago

California lawmakers denied pay until budget resolved

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California’s controller said on Tuesday he would not pay lawmakers after they approved a state budget whose “numbers simply did not add up,” vowing to withhold paychecks until they submit a balanced budget.

Although Democratic lawmakers who control the legislature had approved a budget last Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the budget a day later.

Controller John Chiang said he was acting under terms of a law approved by voters last year to withhold lawmakers’ pay if they miss deadlines for balancing the state’s books, which they routinely do.

Last Wednesday was the deadline for lawmakers to submit a budget to the governor for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Chiang had warned lawmakers that they would not be paid if they missed the deadline.

“My office’s careful review of the recently passed budget found components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished,” Chiang said in a statement.

“The numbers simply did not add up, and the legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor,” he said.

In vetoing the budget, Brown said the spending plan approved by his fellow Democrats was filled with “legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez said Chiang’s decision gives the legislature’s Republican minority control of the budget process.

Republicans have been holding up Brown’s budget plan because it called for an extension of temporary tax increases, which requires a two-thirds vote of lawmakers.

Without any Republicans lending support for that, Democratic leaders last week said they opted to drop Brown’s plan to try to push through their own budget last week.

California is notorious for late budgets. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state’s current budget last October, 100 days after it should have been in place.

Chiang, a Democrat, said his office’s analysts concluded that the budget approved by lawmakers last week was not balanced and would leave a $1.85 billion shortfall.

Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Leslie Adler

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