SACRAMENTO – The Legislature’s Democratic leaders have filed a lawsuit against the state controller for blocking lawmakers’ pay last year after deciding they had failed to meet their constitutional deadline for passing a balanced budget.

Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg say they are not seeking back pay. But they do want the courts to clarify whether Controller John Chiang violated the constitutional separation of powers when he withheld lawmakers’ pay.

Chiang acted under Proposition 25, an initiative approved by voters in 2010.

Chiang, also a Democrat, said he reviewed the budget passed by the Democratic majority and determined it was not balanced. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court says it was and that Chiang overstepped his authority.

Chiang’s office did not immediately respond.

Associated Press