SACRAMENTO — Gov. Schwarzenegger on Thursday ordered about 200,000 state workers to be paid the federal minimum wage this month because the state Legislature has not passed a budget, but the state controller is refusing to comply.
Department of Personnel Administration Director Debbie Endsley sent the order in a letter to the state controller, who refused a similar order two years ago. The matter is tied up in the appellate courts, leading the controller to say he will abide by whatever final ruling emerges, which could be years down the road. He said he can't follow the order now due to technical and legal issues.
Most state employees are to be paid the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour for the July pay period.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the change should be reflected in state employees' next paycheck. Workers will be paid in full retroactively once a budget is passed.
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"It's a sad day when the boss wants to make his employees collateral damage in a budget dispute," said Patty Velez, an environmental scientist and president of the California Association of Professional Scientists, a union that would be affected by the cuts.
The Republican governor has been frustrated by the Legislature's failure to close California's $19 billion budget deficit, even as the new fiscal year began Thursday.
Schwarzenegger's order does not affect the 37,000 workers, including California Highway Patrol officers, who are in unions that recently negotiated new contracts with the administration.
Schwarzenegger made a similar order two years ago, but it never took affect because state Controller John Chiang refused to comply.
The courts later sided with Schwarzenegger, but the matter is on appeal.
"It's inevitable that this is going to end up being ruled against the controller," McLear said.