SACRAMENTO — A state panel appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown voted Monday to give the governor, state legislators and many other officials a 3% pay raise, saying it would make their salaries more competitive with leaders elsewhere.
The increases will take effect Dec. 7.
Thomas Dalzell, chairman of the state Citizens Compensation Commission, said the 2.5% raises taking effect July 1 for many rank-and-file state workers also were a basis for the new salaries.
Brown's pay will go from $177,466 a year to $182,789; the base salary for lawmakers will go from $97,196 to $100,111. Leadership posts in the Legislature pay up to 15% more.
All statewide constitutional officers, including the state treasurer, controller, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, lieutenant governor and members of the state Board of Equalization, also will receive pay hikes.
The panel raised the officials’ pay 7.3% over the last two years, partly restoring deep wage cuts made during the recession, when many state services and wages were reduced.
“State [elected] officials are now at about 83% of what they were earning in 2007,” Dalzell said. “The commission wanted to start closing the gap a little bit.”
The panel also restored state health benefits that had been cut 10% in past years.
Lew Uhler, head of the California-based National Tax Limitation Committee, criticized the raises. He said state leaders have failed to deal effectively with problems including the drought, crumbling roads and sagging private-sector wages.
“A pay raise should be applause for a job well done. Who could possibly say the way this Legislature has performed deserves a round of applause?” Uhler said.
Commissioners indicated that they plan to consider more significant raises next year, to align the salaries of the governor and attorney general more closely with their counterparts’ earnings.
Commissioner Anthony Barkett noted that California’s governor was paid less than chief executives in smaller states, including the governors of Tennessee ($181,980), New York ($179,000) and Pennsylvania ($187,818).
Barkett said the salary for the governor of California should be in the range of $190,000 to $200,000.
“I think that is a fair and reasonable number,” Barkett told his colleagues before the vote. “Our governor, relative to other governors and the magnitude of our state, is underpaid at $177,000.”
Dalzell noted that the state attorney general, whose salary with the raise will be $158,774, still will be paid less than the district attorneys in California’s seven largest counties. The Los Angeles County district attorney makes $317,685.
Barkett suggested the attorney general’s salary should be about $175,000.
Dalzell proposed that the more significant changes be put off a year because Brown has filled only four of the seven seats on the commission, and Dalzell wants a larger panel in place to consider heftier increases.
“I am all for a restructuring next year,” he told the rest of the panel.
The chairman did not sound as concerned about the salaries of lawmakers, whose base salary was the highest in the country even before the new raises. Legislators also receive tax-free per diem expenses of $168 while in session.
Last week, Brown appointed Sacramento Kings executive Matina Kolokotronis to the panel a year and a half after the governor and Legislature eased environmental regulations to speed construction of an arena for the Kings in downtown Sacramento.
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