Proposition 25 Loophole Allows Legislators to Collect Paycheck without Enacting a Balanced Budget

Monday, June 15, 2015

SACRAMENTO - No budget, no paycheck. California legislators promised taxpayers in 2010 that Proposition 25 would hold them accountable to voters if they failed to pass a budget by California's constitutional deadline of June 15.  Problem is, there is a loophole in Proposition 25 that taxpayers may not know about. Proposition 25 does not require that the budget be balanced or actually enacted by the constitutional deadline which is June 15.

Today, Senate Republicans voted against AB 93, the Budget Act of 2015-16, which they described as fiscally irresponsible because it relies on $3 billion of speculative revenues to prop up spending Californians cannot afford.  Furthermore, it is an incomplete budget, as dozens of “budget trailer” bills necessary to implement the budget plan were not voted on because the Governor will not accept or sign the reckless plan.  Despite the fact that this budget will not be enacted without major changes, ruling Democrats are rushing to pass a budget bill to ensure they collect their paychecks.  This may technically meet the requirements of Proposition 25, but it is clearly a loophole that violates the intent that the budget be presented to the Governor and enacted.  The people of California deserve to be respected by their elected officials, not tricked with technical loopholes. 

In a 2014 article published in California Politics and Review,  Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) stated "... since the Democrats have a majority, they have repeatedly misused their power to manipulate the budget process and to circumvent the state constitution."  In a Los Angeles Times article published in June 2012, a lawyer for State Controller John Chiang told a judge "... you could write a number on a piece of paper... wrap it around a ham sandwich, and you could send it over to the governor, and you could call it a budget. And you could keep getting paid. But it's still a ham sandwich."

In 2010, voters approved Proposition 25, a constitutional amendment that they believed would end legislative gridlock by allowing a simple majority of legislators to approve the budget, and would hold the legislators accountable if they fail to pass a budget on time. Proposition 25 requires passage of the state budget by June 15 or legislators will not get paid.

Since the passage of Proposition 25 and its majority vote budget power, half of the final budget bills were signed after the deadline of June 15 and all of them were incomplete budget plans that did not include the related budget legislation necessary to implement the plan.

Today, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) issued the following statement:

"What we saw today is a collect your paycheck budget that is not properly balanced and is not fiscally responsible. Furthermore, Senate Republicans have seen majority vote budget bills and trailer bills that were passed months after the budget deadline. In one case, I recall it was 10 months following the budget was enacted."

"It is troublesome that legislators would put numbers on a piece of paper and call it a budget for purposes of getting paid. This is not the responsible and accountable government Californians deserve.  We need to fix this loophole in Proposition 25 that allows legislators to side step the will of the people by collecting paychecks when the budget work is unfinished.”