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State officials to get pay hike

A citizens commission OKs a 5% increase for the attorney general and schools chief and a 2.75% raise for various other officeholders.

June 19, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A year after receiving double-digit raises, California's top cop and schools chief will have their salaries boosted 5%, and several other officials will get 2.75% pay increases.

The raises, which take effect Dec. 3, were approved unanimously Monday by the California Citizens Compensation Commission. Some taxpayer advocates argued that the increases were not warranted a year after salaries rose 18% for statewide officials.

A $184,301 salary for Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown was approved based on salary surveys that showed the pay had not kept up with the job, said commission Chairman Charles Murray.

"His pay level is equal to that of an attorney working for a corporate law firm one year after graduating from law school," Murray said. "It was woefully inadequate."

The pay for Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell will also be increased to $184,301. The commission found the current pay to be in the lower half of what state superintendents are paid elsewhere in the country.

Salaries for state legislators, who last year received a 2% raise, will go up 2.75% to $116,208. Identical percentages were approved for lieutenant governor, controller, treasurer, secretary of state, State Board of Equalization members, insurance commissioner and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The wealthy governor does not accept his salary, which will jump on paper to $212,179.

"They are entirely appropriate, given the environment we are in today, the economic data we see," said Commissioner Thomas Dominguez, a bomb technician with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

State voters created the seven-member, bipartisan commission in 1990, giving it authority previously held by the Legislature to set officials' salaries and benefits. Commissioners come from business, labor and the general public.

The panel did not hear any public opposition to the resolution during a hearing in Sacramento, but Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., objected to the raises later Monday.

"It is too much across the board," Coupal said. "There is a general perception that state government is dysfunctional, and most taxpayers do not believe they are getting value from state government for their dollar."

He cited a survey last month by the Public Policy Institute of California showing a drop in the approval rating for the governor and Legislature since January.

Dominguez said the attorney general and schools superintendents' pay will need additional adjustments in future years to catch up to comparable positions elsewhere.

Murray said the 2.75% raise for other state officials is low compared with the 3.4% to 4.8% increase received by most other state employees.

"We felt, given the budget issues and financial constraints, this was appropriate," said Murray, an insurance broker from Los Angeles.



State pay raises

*--* New Percent Office salary increase Governor* $212,179 2.75% Lt. Governor $159,134 2.75% Atty. General $184,301 5.00% Controller $169,743 2.75% Treasurer $169,743 2.75% Secy. of State $159,134 2.75% Supt. of Public Instruction $184,301 5.00% Insurance Commissioner $169,743 2.75% Member, Board of Equalization $159,134 2.75% State legislator $116,208 2.75%


* Gov. Schwarzenegger doesn't accept the salary because he is independently wealthy.


Source: California Citizens Compensation Commission. Graphic sreporting by Patrick McGreevy

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