California News

Budget bill passes, but is it complete? Lawmaker pay depends on it

Monday, June 18, 2012

State lawmakers have passed a state budget, but critics aren't so sure. They claim the plan is incomplete and unbalanced.

Lawmakers are hoping to wrap up the remaining issues on the state budget this week. Critics say that's further proof that the budget is not done, therefore politicians deserve smaller paychecks.

Lawmakers' paychecks and tax-free living expenses are still on the way to their bank accounts.

Using majority-vote powers, Democrats passed the main budget bill by the Friday deadline, but the numerous trailer bills that implement the spending or cuts haven't been acted on. By most standards, that's an incomplete budget and therefore politicians shouldn't get paid.

"This budget should be called a 'I-want-to-get-paid budget.' That's all it is. And it's not balanced," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "It is a fictitious document. If it were in Barnes and Noble, it would be in the fiction section."

But state Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) defended the continuation of their pay.

"I work about 15 hours a day, and we passed a budget which is balanced," said Steinberg.

But Steinberg admits because the governor and Democrats disagree on how deeply to cut welfare, the budget work is not done.

"I know it's not popular, and I know that it's easy as heck to take the shots, but I'm proud of what we did on Friday, and we'll finish the job now," said Steinberg.

Proposition 25 was popular with California voters in 2010, giving the Legislature the authority to pass state budgets with just a majority vote, but would forfeit wages and per diem for every day it's late after June 15.

Last year, lawmakers were each docked an average of $3,200.

But a court ruled this year that State Controller John Chiang shouldn't be the sole determiner of whether paychecks should be docked because one person in government cannot have that kind of power.

"According to the court, there doesn't seem to be anyone available to enforce that provision of Proposition 25," said state Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine).

Since Governor Brown has not rejected the budget Democrats gave him Friday, that seems to suggest he's not ready to use his veto pen. He has until June 27 to act.

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Tags:
budget, california state assembly, california state senate, jerry brown, california news, nannette miranda
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