San Gabriel Valley state lawmakers are cautiously eyeing a controversial 37% pay raise, with only two--Sens. Newton Russell and Charles Calderon--saying outright they will accept the unexpected windfall.
Seven of the 10 area legislators either refused to state their intentions or have not responded to numerous calls from The Times about whether they will accept the $19,500-a-year pay raise that takes effect Jan. 1, 1995.
Assemblyman Fred Aguiar (R-Chino) is the only Valley legislator who has pledged not to take the pay raise, according to the National Tax Limitation Committee.
The Washington-based group asked candidates to sign a pledge not to take the raise until the economy improves and the state balances its budget.
"It's the wrong time for a pay raise with the economy the way it is right now," said Aguiar, who represents parts of Pomona and the Inland Empire.
Many, like Assemblywoman Hilda Solis (D-El Monte), who is competing for a 24th District Senate seat, have refused to take a position. "At this moment I haven't decided what to do," she said.
An independent citizens' commission decided May 6 to boost legislators' salaries from $52,500 to $72,000 a year.
The timing of the pay decision during both the state's continuing economic problems and an election year has turned the matter into a campaign issue.
Assemblywoman Diane Martinez (D-Monterey Park) refused to state her position. Four area legislators did not return repeated telephone calls asking for their position on the pay raise: Assembly members Bill Hoge (R-Pasadena), Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), Richard Mountjoy (R-Arcadia) and Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino).