Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators and other state elected officials were granted 3% raises by a state panel this week that noted the increases are slightly less than the salary increase recently given to rank-and-file state workers.
The raises, which take effect in December, follow a 4% raise for elected officials last year, and a total of 10% in raises spread out over the previous three years.
California’s legislators will see their salaries increase to $107,238 from $104,115. They also get $183 per day in tax-free per diem payments to cover expenses for each day they are in session in Sacramento.
Brown’s pay will jump to $195,803 from $190,100, which makes him the highest-paid governor in the country. The second-highest salary will be the $193,304 designated for the governor of Pennsylvania, though Gov. Tom Wolf does not accept the salary.
Anthony Barkett, a member of the state Citizens Compensation Commission, the panel that approved the raises, said the increase was reasonable given his concern about the state’s unfunded liabilities for pensions and the potential for “catastrophic” budget effects if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
“I’m for a moderate increase again,” Barkett told the panel, adding, "Our legislators need to address these bigger problems.”
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.
Commission Chairman Thomas Dalzell said California officials’ salaries are still lagging behind the pay received by comparable managers in big cities and counties in California.
The action raises salaries for California officials that mostly were already higher than the pay of their counterparts in other states.
“Our data shows our legislators’ and constitutional officers’ salaries are greater than they are in most states,” Dalzell said.
Even without the raise, California lawmakers receive the highest base salary in the country. The second-highest is the $86,479 that goes to lawmakers in Pennsylvania.
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.
The Legislature and governor recently granted 4% raises, effective July 1, to employees represented by the largest union of state rank-and-file workers.
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