Jon Fleischman

Jon is the elected Vice Chairman, South of the California Republican Party.

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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

 
 

Q&A With Governor's Office On His Order To Reduce Pay To Federal Minimum Wage

 

by Jon Fleischman - Publisher (bio) (email)(print)

 
7-2-2010 6:40 am
Yesterday the Governor took the very serious step of ordering that the pay for most state employees be reduced to the federal minimum wage because the legislature has not put a budget in front of him by the Constitutional deadline of July 1st.  We tracked down Lynelle Jolley, Communications Director at the Department of Personnel Administration, for a little Q&A on this action by the Governor...

FLASH: Why is the Governor doing this?

JOLLEY: We're trying to enforce the law. We don't want to do it but are forced to because without a budget, there's no authority to legally pay state workers their full salaries. Our State Constitution prohibits issuing payments without a legislative appropriation. For most of the state's payroll, this appropriation comes through the annual state budget act.

When a taxpayer group brought suit against a former controller for issuing paychecks when there was no budget, the case ended up in the CA Supreme Court, which ruled in May 2003 (White v Davis) that the Constitution prohibits paying state workers when there's no budget except to the extent required by federal minimum wage law. A trial court ruled last year (Feb. 2009) that the Controller broke the law when he refused to follow pay instructions from DPA in the summer of 200; those instructions were our first attempt to implement the White v Davis ruling. 

FLASH: Who does this effect?

JOLLEY: Virtually the entire executive branch of State government, except for those represented by unions that recently struck bargaining agreements with the Administration that make major pension concessions in exchange for continuous appropriation of their payroll. That appropriation ensures they will receive normal wages even when the budget is late, during the time their contracts are in effect.

FLASH: When does it go into effect?

JOLLEY: It covers the July pay period, which started today. Paychecks for this pay period are issued at the end of the month.

FLASH: Can this be stopped by court action?

JOLLEY: Only if the appeals court ruling that's expected any day overturns the trial court ruling.

FLASH:  Can State Controller John Chiang stop it?

JOLLEY:  He can appeal an appeals court ruling that goes against him, but that appeal would go to the CA Supreme Court, where the matter was ruled on in 2003. That ruling was White v Davis. The supreme court justices would be considering many of the same arguments they already ruled on then.

FLASH:  Thanks for your time, Lynelle!
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Comments

Great article, Jon. Next time be sure to ask Lynelle Jolley how the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution permits Congress to set the salaries of state workers by passing a minimum wage. (Hint: It doesn't.)

Also, it is worth noting that federal minimum wage laws do not apply (by their own terms) to attorneys and many other categories of state workers. Thus, I am not sure that there is ANY statutory authority for those workers to get paid without a budget.

I work for the state, so I don't like the idea of not getting paid, but there are important constitutional principles at stake in this debate. Without an appropriation passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor, state workers should not be paid.

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