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Panel freezes salaries of state officials

'This is not the time for any kind of pay raise,' one member says. The commission nearly cut pay by 10%.

June 11, 2008|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The salaries of elected state officials were frozen Tuesday by a panel that said California's financial crisis was too dire to raise them.

The California Citizens Compensation Commission fell one vote short of cutting the officials' pay by 10% -- the same reduction that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed for all state agencies, to avoid a potential $15.2-billion deficit in the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

"This is not the time for any kind of pay raise," Commissioner Larry Gotlieb said. "A freeze is appropriate."

Commissioner Ruth Lopez Novodor argued against a pay cut.

"Rather than creating chaos at the top, where people have to scramble to . . . make up the difference for their salaries," she said, "we need them to focus on their jobs and resolve this [budget] issue immediately."

Only Commission Chairman Charles Murray voted against the freeze, and with Commissioner Kathy Sands, in favor of a cut.

A 10% reduction would be consistent with the governor's proposal for state agencies and the Assembly speaker's proposal for that house's budget, he said.

"I think voting for a cut is our responsibility," Murray said. "Everybody else . . . is subject to a cut imposed by the governor, except for the legislators themselves."

Murray's position was supported by state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), who is not a member of the commission but said his colleagues declined recently to pass his proposal to prevent pay raises during budget deficits.

"We are the highest paid legislature in the country," Maldonado told the commission during a hearing Tuesday at Sacramento City Hall. "We have repeatedly failed to do our jobs, whether it is passing a budget on time or important policy reforms, but we are more than happy to take more money from needy Californians and put it our bank accounts."

Legislators are paid $116,208 a year.

The proposal to cut salaries was opposed in testimony by former GOP Assemblyman Brett Granlund of Yucaipa, who noted that the commission was created by a constitutional amendment aimed at eliminating politics from the determining of officials' pay.

Cutting salaries, he said, "would be purely headline-seeking politics."

The commission action takes effect for a year, beginning Dec. 10.

Last year, the commission approved a 5% pay increase for the attorney general and state superintendent of public instruction and a 2.75% raise for legislators and other elected state officials.

Schwarzenegger has declined to accept any salary.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Salary freeze

The California Citizens Compensation Commission on Tuesday froze the salaries of elected state officials for a year, beginning in December. The salaries:

Governor: $212,179 (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not accept a salary.)

Lieutenant governor: $159,134

Attorney general: $184,301

Controller: $169,743

Treasurer: $169,743

Secretary of state: $159,134

Supt. of public instruction: $184,301

Insurance commissioner: $169,743

Board of Equalization members: $159,134

Members of the Legislature: $116,208

Assembly speaker, Senate president pro tem and minority floor leader: $133,639

Majority floor leader and second ranking minority leader: $124,923

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Source: California Department of Personnel Administration

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