SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In an unprecedented decision that could be challenged in court, state Controller John Chiang, a Democrat, ruled Tuesday that legislators forfeited their pay for approving a budget that he said was not in balance.

Chiang, who has the authority to cut paychecks to legislators, said he was acting under the mandate of two laws backed by voters that require a balanced budget to be approved by the June 15 constitutional deadline.

He pointed to a $1.85 billion gap between the $89.75 billion in spending and $87.9 billion in revenue, a budget that was vetoed almost immediately by Gov. Jerry Brown, who called it out of balance and filled with legally questionable maneuvers.

Legislators, who make $95,291 annually, will lose about $400 a day, which includes $142 in living and travel expenses.