Lawmakers will lose their salaries and per diem payments if they fail to approve a balanced budget by June 15, state Controller John Chiang said this morning.
The budget bill the Legislature adopted in March, he said, is insufficient to satisfy Proposition 25, the measure voters approved last year to dock lawmaker pay when the budget is late. The Legislature passed a budget bill in March, but it closed only part of the deficit, and the state Constitution requires that the state budget be balanced.
"Presenting the Governor with a balanced budget by the Constitutional deadline is the most important, if not most difficult, job of the California Legislature," Chiang said in a prepared statement. "In passing Proposition 25 last November, voters clearly stated they expect their representatives to make the difficult decisions needed to resolve any budget shortfalls by the mandatory deadline, or be penalized. I will enforce the voters' demand."
The move applies another layer of leverage on lawmakers who are at odds over whether to approve tax extensions proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Chiang's office said in a release that Proposition 25 "cannot be read in a vacuum," but must take into account the provisions of a 2004 measure that require the state budget to be balanced.
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, issued a statement supporting Chiang's decision.
"I was a vocal supporter of Prop 25, and I do not believe we should even be talking about loopholes or ways to get around that provision because our focus needs to be on doing our job and passing a balanced budget," Perez said in a statement. "We made progress in March, and over the next two weeks we will build on that progress and close out the remainder of the deficit by June 15th."