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No Budget Should Mean No Pay for Legislators

California's legislators send a budget to Governor Jerry Brown on deadline – but Brown vetoes it, saying it isn't feasible. Under Prop 25, legislators might not get their paychecks until a solution is found.

On Thursday, Jerry Brown vetoed the budget California's legislators finally passed Wednesday, the last day before our state senators and assemblymembers would have to pay a personal penalty.

Now, it is up to State Controller John Chiang to figure out whether, under Proposition 25, which withholds legislators' pay everyday after the deadline until a budget is passed, the budget that legislators passed meets Prop. 25 requirements.

On Thursday, Chiang released a memo saying he is working to determine "whether the budget bills passed Wednesday meet the constitutional" requirements of Prop. 25.

The governor said that the budget sent to his desk on Wednesday had "legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings."

For decades now, it has become an annual ritual for the California state budget to be late.

Like many others, I got tired of seeing a lack of urgency on the part of legislators when a budget didn’t pass in a timely manner. Late budgets cost the state millions and degrade state services. Passing a questionable budget is no better.

California has often had to resort to IOUs instead of paying its workers, but the legislators had no personal urgency to act. Last fall, I voted in favor of , which was overwhelmingly approved. 

But why should our legislators be paid if they can’t do their jobs?

I urge the controller to obey not only the letter but the spirit of the law.

Otherwise, expect a concerted citizen effort to not only turn out obstreperous legislators when they are next up for election, but Chiang himself. He’ll be fueling the rage of taxpayers who are getting squeezed out of the American dream while they see politicians unwilling to make either the tough decisions or face the consequences of their inaction.

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