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Schwarzenegger Orders Minimum Wage Salaries for State Workers [Updated]

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Drama in Sacramento and workers around the state. With no budget enacted -- it was due today -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this afternoon has ordered that wages for state workers, save for 37,000 union employees involved in tentative union agreements, be reduced to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

He can do that? Apparently.

"In 2003, the California Supreme Court said the state can withhold pay to the federal minimum until there's money appropriated for wages. No budget, no dough set aside for payroll," explained Joe Ortiz at the Sacramento Bee this morning. "Nothing personal or political, the governor has told the unions. This is the law. Cut deals with us now, or the law will fall on you."

But Ortiz thinks the order won't go through this month. And if it does go through, workers will be back paid once a state budget is enacted. But when that actually happens, who knows. In the past 30 years, California politicians have delivered a budget by the July 1st deadline only 10 times.

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[Update: Assembly Speaker John Perez reacted to the order with disappointment. "Using working families as leverage is not the kind of leadership we need to get through this budget process," he said.]