Mansoor proposal targets budget approval process

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) introduced a state constitutional amendment this week that requires a nonpartisan oversight committee certify the state's proposed budget is balanced before lawmakers get paid.

"This amendment ensures that voters' intentions are protected and establishes a clear process to hold the legislature accountable for balancing the budget," Mansoor said in a news statement.

Mansoor's proposal is in response to a lawsuit filed by California Democrats last month against state Controller John Chiang, a Democrat, who withheld legislators' paychecks last year because he said the budget they passed wasn't fiscally sound.

The amendment would require the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office certify the budget is balanced, buttressing the intent of a 2010 proposition passed by voters that aimed at loosening political gridlock and holding lawmakers accountable if they don't pass a budget on time.

After years of budget delays and political stalemates in Sacramento, voters passed Proposition 25 during the last election that lowered the threshold to pass a spending bill from two-thirds to a simple majority and docked lawmakers' pay for every day after June 15 they failed to pass one.

"The same people who supported Prop 25 are now suing to block its enforcement," Mansoor said. "They deliberately left out an enforcement provision because they wanted to pass a one-party process without actually risking any of their own pay."

While Mansoor's proposal looks to ensure the state's budget is actually balanced before lawmakers are paid, it also reinstalls the two-thirds requirement to pass one.

"Many hoped a one-party budget would bypass partisan gridlock," Mansoor said. "Instead, it gave us a budget that cuts education and increased overall spending."

In announcing the lawsuit last month, Democrats said they believed Chiang exceeded his powers.

"While nothing in the Constitution gives me the authority to judge the honesty, legitimacy or viability of a budget, it does clearly restrict my authority to issue pay to legislators when they fail to enact a balanced budget by the constitutional deadline of June 15," Chiang told the Los Angeles Times.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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