Controller John Chiang declared that lawmakers must produce a balanced budget; his office is reviewing the budget passed this week.

By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Saturday, Jun. 18, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association demanded Friday that Controller John Chiang withhold pay from lawmakers and threatened to sue if he does not.

The group’s president, Jon Coupal, contends that lawmakers must pass a balanced budget to receive pay under voter-approved Proposition 25. He referred to a veto letter in which Gov. Jerry Brown said the Democrats’ majority-vote budget was “not a balanced solution” and “not financeable.”

“If you pay legislators for enacting a phony budget, then you have made Proposition 25’s provision prohibiting pay meaningless,” Coupal wrote. “We urge you to confirm your intent to withhold pay and force the Legislature to get back to work immediately.”

Coupal’s group opposes Brown’s effort to extend taxes and has urged Republicans to stick to their no-new-tax pledges.

The Democratic controller said Thursday he needed more time to analyze the budget bills to determine whether Democrats met their obligation. His office hopes to finish crunching data by early next week, and the controller will make a decision after a “quick” review, said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan.

“The Controller’s decision will be driven exclusively by the rule of law, not by threats, intimidation, or political considerations,” Jordan said in an email.

Dispute remains over whether Proposition 25 requires that lawmakers send the governor a balanced solution, as well as what defines “balanced.” During and after the 2010 campaign, it was thought that lawmakers might be able to send the governor any budget by June 15 to meet the pay requirement. But Chiang, who issues paychecks, declared earlier this month that lawmakers must send a balanced budget.

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