California’s controller had no authority to dock lawmakers’ pay during last year’s budget impasse, according to a tentative ruling issued Tuesday by a Sacramento superior court judge.
Last year, lawmakers each lost about $4,800 when Controller John Chiang withheld their pay. Chiang believes that a new state law (Proposition 25) requires him to block legislators' pay when they fail to enact a "balanced budget” by a constitutional deadline of June 15.
But lawmakers did pass a budget by the deadline, one they say was balanced.
The governor subsequently vetoed it, which prompted the controller to deem it unbalanced and forfeit the lawmakers’ pay last year.
In a tentative ruling, Judge David Brown calls the decision “erroneous” and says it violates the Separation of Powers Act.
In a written release, Controller Chiang says the ruling "flies in the face of the voters' will,” adding that Proposition 25 is “clear. No balanced, on-time budget — no pay for lawmakers.”
A hearing on the tentative ruling is set for 2 p.m. on Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.
Correction: This post originally state that the controller forfeited the balance this year. Apologies.