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Withholding Lawmaker Pay Raises Legal Questions

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 6:57am

California’s State Senate leader is raising some legal questions about the possibility of lawmakers’ pay being docked.

Controller John Chiang is expected to decide this week whether lawmakers should continue getting paychecks. A new voter-approved law says legislators forfeit their pay for every day after June 15th that they haven’t passed a budget. Lawmakers did pass a budget that day, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says there are larger legal issues at stake, saying, “I think it is 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 co-equal branches of government in a way that I think is dangerous.”

The law is silent on the issue of the Governor’s veto or signature. What the Controller is looking into is whether the Democratic budget pencils out. A balanced budget is required by the state constitution.

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