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Legal opinion sought on pay hike for governor, lawmakers

February 20, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Darrell Steinberg, California Senate president pro tempore, left, and Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor of California, right, applaud after Jerry Brown, governor of California, center, finishes his State of the State address at the state Assembly last month. All three might get pay raises this year.
Darrell Steinberg, California Senate president pro tempore, left, and… (Ken James / Bloomberg )

California’s budget situation has improved, but has it done so enough to allow raises for Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators this year?

State law does not allow raises in years when a surplus fund falls below a certain level. Budget problems have resulted in the California Citizens Compensation Commission cutting the pay of the governor and lawmakers by 23% in the last four years.

Thomas Dalzell, Brown’s appointee as chairman of the panel, said it looks likely that the financial requirement will be met this year so that raises can be considered when the panel meets March 21.

But just in case the surplus is not large enough, Dalzell has asked the panel’s attorney to determine whether it could comply with the no-raise rule if it just restores pay levels cut in the past.

"If there is not a surplus then the question is: Could you restore (pay) without violating the statute?’’ Dalzell said late Tuesday. Commissioner Charles Murray said if the surplus is not large enough, the panel should not be allowed to restore pay that was cut in the past. "It’s not in the spirit of the law,’’ Murray said.

There will probably be pressure to restore some of the money that has been cut from salaries. Pay cuts have reduced the governor’s annual salary to $165,288. More than 2,440 state employees earned more than that in 2011, according to a state database.


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