This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- Gov. Jerry Brown acted Tuesday to break up the scandal-plagued state Board of Equalization.
- Progressive activists are angry with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon who shelved a proposal to creates a single-payer healthcare system in California, calling it "woefully incomplete."
- Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen announced on Thursday that he'll run for governor in 2018.
Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators and other state elected officials were granted 3% pay raises Monday by a state panel that noted that it is slightly less than the salary increase that was recently given to rank-and-file state workers.
Anthony Barkett, one member of the state Citizens Compensation Commission, said the increase was reasonable given his concern about the state’s unfunded liabilities for pensions and the potential for “catastrophic” budget effects if Obamacare is repealed.
“I’m for a moderate increase again,” Barkett told the panel, adding, "Our legislators need to address these bigger problems.”
The action, which takes effect December 4, raises salaries for California officials that mostly were already higher than the pay of counterparts in other states.
Gov. Brown’s pay will jump from $190,100 to $195,803, which makes him the highest paid governor in the country. The second highest salary is the $193,304 paid to the governor of Pennsylvania, but Gov. Tom Wolf does not accept the salary.
California’s legislators will see their salaries increase from $104,115 to $107,238. They also get $183 per day in tax free per diem payments to cover expenses for each day they are in session in Sacramento.
The commission, which is appointed by the governor, also gave 3% raises to 11 other constitutional officers, including the attorney general, lieutenant governor and treasurer.
“Our data shows our legislators and constitutional officers’ salaries are greater than they are in most states,” Commission Chairman Thomas Dalzell said.
Even without the raise, California lawmakers received the highest base salary in the country. The second highest base salary is the $86,479 that goes to lawmakers in Pennsylvania.
The Legislature and governor recently granted 4% raises effective July 1 to the largest union of state rank-and-file workers.
The timing of the raises for lawmakers, coming two months after legislators voted to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees by $5.2 billion annually, was questioned by Lew Uhler, head of the California-based National Tax Limitation Committee.
“They raised our taxes and spent our money and they seek a reward for that? Come on,” said a skeptical Uhler.