California court OKs minimum wage for state workers during budget impasse

A California appellate court has backed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to pay 240,000 state workers the federal minimum wage — $7.25 an hour — because lawmakers have not passed a new budget.

The ruling (pdf) comes in a 2-year-old case in which State Controller John Chiang refused to issue minimum-wage paychecks to state workers during the 2008 budget impasse. Today the appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that Chiang had overstepped his authority, the Sacramento Bee explains. Chiang said yesterday he would refuse to follow the governor’s directive unless ordered to by a court. His office has not said whether it will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The money will be withheld beginning with July paychecks and would be refunded to workers once a budget is approved for the new fiscal year, which began yesterday. About 37,000 state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements are exempt from the minimum-wage cut.

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