In a move that’s sure to piss off thousands of state workers (including fire, emergency medical, highway safety and maintenance and teachers) and could mean many families losing their homes and defaulting on their bills during one of the worst fiscal periods in recent history, Govenor Schwarzenegger has decided to hold their paychecks until a budget is passed by state legislators.
Los Angeles Times: “Administration officials said Schwarzenegger was expected to sign the order, a draft of which was obtained Wednesday by The Times, early next week as part of an effort to avert a cash crisis. The deadline for passing a budget was July 1, and without one soon, the officials said, California may be unable to borrow billions of dollars needed to keep the state solvent.
State Controller John Chiang, asserting that the state has enough money on hand, said through a spokesman that he would not implement such an order. Chiang’s office handles payroll for government workers.
The Republican governor’s controversial plan, likely to be challenged in court by public-employee unions if carried out, would allow the state to defer paying about $1 billion a month, administration officials said. Workers would be repaid their lost earnings once a budget was in place.
As drafted, the order also calls for the state to immediately lay off 21,855 part-time workers, stop overtime payments for almost all employees and cease all hiring until a budget is enacted.
‘Because the Legislature has failed to pass a budget and our state does not have a rainy-day fund, this is one of a number of options we are considering to make sure we have sufficient cash to cover our costs,’ said administration spokesman Matt David.
Until recently, the governor had played a relatively minor role in budget negotiations since offering his revised spending plan in May. As public frustration over Sacramento’s handling of the budget has mounted, much of the blame has fallen on him. His approval rating among voters is 40%, according to a Field Poll released this week, down from 60% in December.
The executive order appears intended to show that Schwarzenegger is taking action and to pressure lawmakers to finish work on the budget. Democrats rely on the major public employee unions to help bankroll their political campaigns, and the public-safety unions that Republicans often look to for support could be affected by his order.
Once the order took effect, most state employees, who are paid once a month, would not see another paycheck until the end of August. If the budget was passed late in that month, their full salaries would still be reflected in that paycheck.
The response to Schwarzenegger’s plan from unions was immediate and angry.
‘The governor is turning a budget crisis into a catastrophe,’ said Yvonne Walker, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents 95,000 state workers. ‘How can you tell people, ‘We will just pay you this amount and you can catch up later?’
‘We are in the middle of a housing crisis, and people are losing their mortgages,’ she said. ‘Are they going to issue a notice to mortgage companies that employees will just catch up later?’
Walker said she believed the governor’s plan was illegal, and union attorneys are already drafting a lawsuit to file if the order is signed.”
Personally I think this is one of the most irresponsible moves any politician could make. If he wants to get into a pissing match with state legislators over who is boss fine…do it with something less critical to the welfare of so many people. But with holding paychecks AFTER the people have gone to work and earned the money is well…NUTS. I’m sure these thousands of employees didn’t expect to work and not get paid. Many have house and car payments, credit cards, loans, utility bills…all in the most expensive state to live and do work in the nation. Good luck getting your ass out of this one.