High noon in California as governor, controller face off over paycuts

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is giving Democratic state Controller John Chiang until noon Monday to decide whether he will cut the wages of about 180,000 state workers this month, likely triggering a legal battle next week between the two constitutional officers.

The governor's Department of Personnel Administration sent a memo to Chiang's State Controllers' Office Friday suggesting the controller can feasibly reduce the wages of about 150,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour and an additional 30,000 supervisors and managers to a salary equivalent to $11.38 per hour.

"Given the critical nature of this issue, we are requesting your response on whether any of these options (or any additional option identified by SCO) are viable and can be used to implement the DPA pay letter," the memo states.

Schwarzenegger sent Chiang a pay letter this week asking him to make the changes, and their aides met Thursday to discuss possible implementation. The governor wants the wage cut implemented by the time end-of-month paychecks are issued August 29.

Chiang insists he will defy the governor's order and pay full wages to state employees. Chiang's spokeswoman, Hallye Jordan, said the Thursday meeting with the governor's aides did nothing to change that position.

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