Archived: State Legislators Should Learn From Chiang’s Decision to Not Pay Them


As of now, none of us knows when a state budget will be adopted that passes muster with both Governor Jerry Brown and State Controller John Chiang.

But listening to the news that has for the most part focused attention on the complaints of state legislators who will not be paid because the state controller has decided the budget they hastily passed before the constitutional deadline did not meet the mandate that it be balanced, one would think they are the only group in the state that will have to do without in the days ahead.

For too many years, our state legislators have failed in their duty to pass an on-time balanced budget, preferring instead to use paper fixes and accounting gimmicks to relieve them of their fiduciary duties, and to leave the hard decisions to whomever takes their place. Those chickens have come home to roost, and now it’s their livelihood on the chopping block.

There are many groups of people who depend on state funding— including school districts, those receiving state subsidized medical services, and many municipalities trying to get their spending plans in order. Unfortunately for them, too many of our legislators have moved to the extremes of their party rhetoric, and are more interested in getting re-elected than the public service part of their job.

Hopefully the governor’s quick and determined veto and Chiang’s bold decision to withhold the pay of elected officials will move them to quickly pass a balanced budget.

In the meantime, we hope state legislators will come to understand firsthand and empathize with the many Californians who today have no paycheck to look forward to.

This may be a way for them to learn to do what the rest of us are told we should do, and that is to have at least six months of expenses in a rainy day savings account.

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