June 15 'Budget' Clearly Violates Prop. 25

June 15 'Budget' Clearly Violates Prop. 25

JUNE 17, 2011

By JOHN SEILER

California Controller John Chiang says he’s the man who decides whether state legislators have met the Proposition 25 requirement to pass a balanced budget — or get their pay docked. So far, he’s waffling. He said:

We are awaiting the final budget bill language before we be gin our examination. In addition, we have asked the Department of Finance, which tracks and tallies the Legislature’s budget activities, for data to inform our decision.

But everybody knows the budget isn’t balanced. That’s why Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it. As he said yesterday in his veto statement:

Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution. It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur.

That’s obvious. What is Chiang waiting for? If you don’t work, you shouldn’t be paid. At least that’s always how it’s been in the private sector that I’ve worked in.

Prop. 15’s Language

The language of Prop. 25 is clear:

in any year in which the budget bill is not passed by the Legislature by midnight on June 15, there shall be no appropriation from the current budget or future budget to pay any salary or reimbursement for travel or living expenses for Members of the Legislature during any regular or special session for the period from midnight on June 15 until the day that the budget bill is presented to the Governor.

The actual budget passed June 15 was a fake budget, as Gov. Brown rightly said, so no budget really was passed.

And here’s how Prop. 25 was sold to voters. Note the bumper sticker at the right. It says, “No excuses.”

And the YouTube at the top of this article is an ad that sold Prop. 25 to voters, who passed the initiative with 55 percent of the vote. It says, “For every day the budget’s late, legislators lose their pay and benefits … permanently…. It holds legislators accountable for late budgets — period.”

Note that “period.” No if’s and’s, but’s — or fake budgets.

Rubber Room

Maybe the problem is that so many Democratic legislators come from government-union backgrounds. So they’re used to “featherbedding,” under which a union employee is paid not to work.

And in unionized schools, there’s even a special phrase, “rubber room,” where they put bad teachers who can’t be fired. The L.A. Times reported of the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2009:

About 160 teachers and other staff sit idly in buildings scattered around the sprawling district, waiting for allegations of misconduct to be resolved.

The housed are accused, among other things, of sexual contact with students, harassment, theft or drug possession. Nearly all are being paid. All told, they collect about $10 million in salaries per year — even as the district is contemplating widespread layoffs of teachers because of a financial shortfall.

Most cases take months to adjudicate, but some take years.

At least they’re not teaching the kids.

If Chiang doesn’t dock the legislators’ pay, the Capitol will be just a giant rubber room.

 

 

 

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