Chiang: Lawmakers Will Stop Collecting Pay if They Fail To Pass Budget
On Thursday, state Controller John Chiang (D) announced that lawmakers would stop receiving their salaries and per diem payments if they fail to pass a balanced budget by the constitutional deadline of June 15, the Sacramento Bee reports.
California lawmakers receive annual compensation of $95,291, plus $142 per day for living expenses while in Sacramento (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 6/3). Chiang said a ballot measure passed in November calls for the state to withhold legislators' pay unless they approve a spending plan by the deadline.
Attorneys in the Senate recently said that budget legislation passed in March provides the necessary conditions to continue paying lawmakers' salaries (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 6/3). The March legislation included $11 billion in spending cuts, many of which targeted health and human service programs (California Healthline, 6/2).
However, Chiang said a legal analysis by his office determined that lawmakers would continue receiving pay only if they passed a balanced budget plan (Los Angeles Times, 6/3).
Balancing the Budget
To balance the budget, California lawmakers will need to address the state's remaining $9.6 billion deficit.
Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released a revised spending plan that aims to close the state's budget gap through tax measures and additional spending cuts. The governor's plan would:
- Extend a fee on hospitals to bring in $320 million for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program;
- Shift beneficiaries of Healthy Families -- California's Children's Health Insurance Program -- to Medi-Cal; and
- Shut down several state boards, including the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which runs Healthy Families and other programs (California Healthline, 5/17).
Lawmakers' Reactions to Chiang's Announcement
The governor and several legislators welcomed Chiang's announcement. Brown said, "Of course [lawmakers] shouldn't get paid" if they fail to pass a budget on time.
Assembly Speaker John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) said, "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" (Los Angeles Times, 6/3).
Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) said legislators "have jobs to do, and passing the budget is the most important one. We shouldn't be compensated if we can't do that" (Sacramento Bee, 6/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.