Amid budget impasse, Calif. pols lose paychecks

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, Left, and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, walk through the Capitol after leaving a meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, June 24, 2011. The two majority leaders met with the governor to discuss an alternative budget plan the governor could support if it were passed by a simple majority of Democrats.
AP Photo

With the national debt ceiling deadline little more than five weeks away, the House of Representatives is taking a holiday break until the sixth of July. An aide to Speaker John Boehner says house leaders can always consult by phone.

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that, in California, voters believe they've found a better way to keep their legislators on the job.

For the past five years, California Assemblyman Tony Mendoza has been serving a district with severe unemployment. Now he too is experiencing firsthand what it's like to not get a paycheck.

"Yeah, it pains me that I'm not going to get paid and bills are going to start stacking up and mortgages are going to be put on hold, but that's like everybody else right now - we're all feeling the pinch," Mendoza says.

Mendoza is among 120 California lawmakers who are not getting paid this week because they failed to pass a balanced budget on time. So this husband and father of four will have to rely on his wife's teaching salary.

The man who cuts California's paychecks, State Controller John Chiang, decided to implement a unique measure approved by California voters last November. The law -- known as proposition 25 -- requires legislators to forfeit their own salary for each day that a budget is not passed beyond the June 15th deadline. For lawmakers making $95,291 per year, that means $261 will be withheld per day. They'll also lose a $142 daily stipend for travel and living expenses.

"We'll pay them if they complete their responsibility," Chiang says.

Unlike a similar law passed in New York, California legislators will never get that money back.

"I have no objection to paying them, but they have an obligation. They ran for office. Now they need to make sure that we have a budget in place," Chiang says.

Some politicians are outraged. Los Angeles Assemblyman Mike Gatto issued a statement saying: "I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won't be able to pay the bills." Listeners of a local radio show responded by dropping off cans of spam in front of Gatto's office.

"I think this opportunity to dock their pay to get them to speed up the process is genius - money talks," says California voter Chrissy Offutt.

While state legislators and Governor Jerry Brown try to hammer out a new budget plan, you won't be hearing many complaints from taxpayers. So far, the state of California has saved more than $485,000 in salaries.