No pay raise if deficit remains, California elected officials warned

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If Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers fail to erase the state budget deficit in the next two months, they will be disqualified from getting a pay raise, officials warned Thursday.

That is because a ballot measure approved by California voters in 2009 prohibits pay raises in years when the state has a budget deficit. ‘If we wanted to increase [pay], I don’t think we could,’ said Thomas Dalzell, chairman of a citizens panel that sets the compensation for elected officials.


Even so, the Citizens Compensation Commission, which is appointed by the governor, agreed Thursday to expand a survey of the salaries of other government agencies that will be used to set pay for the coming year. A vote on salaries was put off until May, when the state finance director will certify whether the state budget remains in deficit.

‘I’m guessing that will be so certified,’ Dalzell said. Even without the restriction set by Proposition 1F, some commissioners have said they are unlikely to support pay raises for elected officials while the state’s economy is struggling.

The panel also agreed Thursday to launch a review to determine whether its decision last year to take state cars away from lawmakers is actually costing taxpayers more, rather than saving money as intended.

The Legislature contends that before the change, transportation costs with state-owned cars averaged 37 cents per mile for Assembly members and 42 cents per mile for senators, but now that they no longer have the vehicles, they are able to bill the state 53 cents per mile for use of their personal cars.

Commissioner John Stites II challenged how the legislature came up with the costs before the change. So the panel asked its staff for a detailed report, including a sample of legislators’ mileage logs, to ‘verify the veracity of what the mileage was,’ Stites said.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento