Gov. Jerry Brown, the 120 state lawmakers and 10 other elected officials were granted a 2% pay raise Friday by a state panel whose members said California’s improving economy and budget situation justifies the raises.
The increase was approved by the state Citizens Compensation Commission, which is appointed by the governor, and last year granted the state officials a 5.2% raise after slashing officials’ pay by 23% during the previous four years.
The increases take effect in December. Commission Chairman Tom Dalzell said the pay raises are justified by the improved economy and a survey of what comparable officials are paid.
Commissioner Scott Somers noted that unelected state managers are already getting a 2% raise. "If other state employees are getting that I don't see why we can't be comfortable with that level" for elected officials, Somers said.
The latest increase was approved after a commission survey found that the governor’s $173,987 annual salary is smaller than the pay received by the mayors of Los Angeles ($232,426), San Diego ($296,213) and San Francisco ($260,574).
The base pay for state legislators is $95,291, which is the highest base pay for any Legislature in the country, although some other states provide retirement benefits not given in California and larger amounts for committee chairs and officers.
The action will increase Gov. Brown’s salary by $3,479 to $177,466 per year. The base salary for legislators will rise $1,905 to $97,196.
Somers noted that elected officials had their salaries reduced during the recession when cuts in services were needed to balance the budget.
“They get tarred when times are tough so they ought to get some credit when things are improving,” Somers said.
The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Anthony Barkett opposing any increase. He noted a 5.2% raise was granted last year and he was uncomfortable approving another raise so soon when there are still questions about whether the economy is on firm footing. He was also concerned about approving a raise after a major tax increase was approved by voters in 2012.
The same 2% pay raises apply to the state attorney general, treasurer, controller, lieutenant governor, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and members of the State Board of Equalization.
The job of setting salaries for state elected officials was given to the independent citizens panel by California voters in 1990 when they passed Proposition 112.