Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sued state Controller John Chiang Tuesday, seeking an injunction that would force Chiang to slash the pay of almost 200,000 state workers to minimum wage until a budget is passed, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Schwarzenegger issued the pay cut order July 1 after lawmakers failed to send him a spending plan for the new fiscal year. Chiang refused to comply, saying that he may not implement the latest directive anytime soon. The state's payroll system cannot be easily reprogrammed to make immediate, large-scale salary adjustments.
“This is not a simple software problem,” Chiang said. “Reducing pay and then restoring it in a timely manner once the budget is enacted cannot be done without gross violations of law unless and until the state completes its overhaul of the state payroll system and payroll laws are changed.”
Critics called Chiang's response “absurd.”
“He has been in office 3 1/2 years,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. “That is more than enough time for him to have figured out how to do his job.”
The court ruling, stemming from a 2008 case, concluded that the Schwarzenegger administration has the authority to force the controller to cut state workers' pay due to the “budget impasse”.
The controller told the Los Angeles Times that he would seek guidance from the court on how quickly he must act.