State attorneys could get no pay until budget passed

Chris Rizo Aug. 6, 2008, 11:56am

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Attorneys in the California Department of Justice could receive no pay until a state budget is signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an official said.

In addition to doctors and engineers, lawyers in Attorney General Jerry Brown's office will receive no pay, while other state workers will be paid the federal minimum wage of $6.55 until a budget is signed.

In a letter to the state controller, who administers the state's payroll, Department of Administrative Services Director Dave Gilb said many of the state's professional staff, such as attorneys, are not entitled to get at least the federal minimum wage.

"These employees are exempt from the salary basis test and are not subject to any minimum salary requirements and therefore will not receive any compensation until after adoption of a state budget," he wrote.

State Controller John Chiang has said he will not follow the Republican governor's executive order that cut pay for about 200,000 state workers until a budget is signed. Afterward, the workers would get back their full pay.

Those who would not be affected by the governor's plan would be the state's 120 legislators, 565 political appointees and 2,164 legislative staff.

By slashing 200,000 non-essential state workers' payroll, the state would save up to about $1 billion a month, analysts say.

The California constitution requires state lawmakers to approve a budget by June 15, in time for the start of the July 1 fiscal year. But typically, the spending proposal becomes marred in ideological differences between Democratic and Republican legislators.

This year, lawmakers are hung up over whether to close a $15.2 billion deficit primarily with spending cuts or tax increases.

Democrats are calling for passage of a $9.7 billion tax package, while Republicans want more spending cuts.

Chiang, a Democrat, called the governor's pay-cut plan a political ploy to pressure lawmakers to pass a state spending plan.

"Forcing public servants to involuntarily loan the state cash by foregoing their hard-earned paychecks puts an untenable burden on our teachers, health care workers and those who provide critical public services. That is just wrong," Chiang said in a statement.

The state controller has said he believes the state has enough cash to pay full salaries through the end of September without a budget agreement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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California Department of Justice
1300 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814

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