State funds could allow for pay raises for elected officials

May 16, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Gov. Jerry Brown walks past an education funding chart after presenting his revised 2013-14 state budget plan at the Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown walks past an education funding chart after presenting… (Rich Pedroncelli / AP )

The state certified Thursday that it has a sufficient reserve fund to allow pay raises for Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers and other elected officials, but members of a panel that sets pay say they will probably maintain the status quo for another year.

Meanwhile, executives for the Senate and Assembly have written to the California Citizens Compensation Commission arguing that lawmakers in California are not paid as much as their counterparts in New York if stipends for committee assignments are counted.

The letter was seen by Commissioner Chuck Murray as an attempt by legislative leaders to persuade  the panel to restore some of the pay cut from elected officials' salaries in recent years. Asked about the possibility of raises this year, Murray said, "I don't think it is warranted."

Thomas Dalzell, chairman of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, said the data showing six other governors paid more than Brown would support a pay increase, but the state is just emerging from difficult financial times. “It would surprise me if that’s the direction we end up going in the first year out of a budget surplus,” he said of a pay raise.

California voters in 2009 approved a ballot measure that prohibits pay raises for elected state officials unless there is a sufficient positive balance in the state’s Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties.

For the first time since Proposition 1F was approved, state Finance Director Ana Matosantos on Thursday certified that the reserve fund meets the level set by the ballot measure. “The state has enacted significant ongoing spending cuts over the last two years,” she wrote in a letter to the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which meets May 28 on the issue.

A survey by the commission found that the $90,500 base salary of California lawmakers is the highest in the country. However, Senate Secretary Gregory P. Schmidt and Assembly Chief Administrative Officer Jon Waldie  wrote to the panel that New York legislators receive stipends for committee and leadership assignments that, on average, make their pay $4,500 higher than what is received by California lawmakers.

"Additionally, when you factor in the pension for New York, their total compensation package is much higher than California's," the two executives wrote May 9. California legislators do not receive pensions, but get $30,000 annually in tax free per diem payments.


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