Governor to sue Chiang over pay cuts

August 15, 2008 2:14:19 PM PDT
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Controller John Chiang are headed for a court fight over the administration's attempt to cut the pay of state workers.

John Chiang did not give the governor the answer he wanted by the new deadline. So the governor is hoping with the lawsuit filed on Monday afternoon, a judge will force Chiang to comply with the law.

Democratic State Controller John Chiang told the Governor, he needs more time to determine whether California's antiquated payroll system can be adjusted to pay all state workers $6.55 an hour.

That wasn't good enough, so Governor Schwarzenegger took Chiang to court to make him pay state workers lower wages.

"We're asking the State Controller to comply with a court ruling that said in the absence of a state budget, he can pay state employees no more than what is required under federal labor law, which is the federal minimum wage," said Lynelle Jolley from California Department of Personnel Administration.

The temporary pay cuts to 180,000 state workers set off numerous protests throughout California. The showdown between Chiang and Schwarzenegger was expected, because Chiang had repeatedly said he would defy the executive order the Governor signed last week.

The Los Angeles Democrat says the pay cuts are unnecessary because the state is solvent through October and that suing him costs the state money it doesn't have.

"He's going to waste taxpayer dollars for unnecessary litigation. I would encourage the Governor to try a better course to work with the Legislators to remedy this budget impasse," said State Controller (D) John Chiang.

With the state budget now running almost six weeks late, lawmakers are no closer to a deal.

The Governor is now meeting privately with individual Republican Senators behind closed doors, to try to sway them to cross party lines and vote for a budget that's likely to include raising taxes.

"Anytime that kind of negotiation goes on, it's always problematic. The fact, is, there are tremendous differences that we have with our Democratic colleagues and even the Governor in regard to this issue of tax," said St. Sen. George Runner (R) Lancaster.

At this point, with the end-of-the-month payday fast approaching, state workers don't want that minimum wage check, they need either Chiang to win in court, or a budget deal reached.

They can't afford a smaller check when they're raising a family.

"Just taking care of everyday life stuff. Feeding them, taking them to the doctors, everything, gas. The cost of living is just way too expensive," said state worker Josh Patterson.

Full-time at the federal minimum wage is about $1,100 a month. Once the case is assigned a judge, the Schwarzenegger Administration will push for a quick hearing date.


Load Comments