Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators were given 3% raises Tuesday by a government panel that noted California’s economy is booming, and its new budget is flush with cash.
The California Citizens Compensation Commission action bumps up the salary for the governor and other state elected officials on Dec. 3, a month before Brown leaves office, meaning the move will mostly benefit the next governor.
Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox are competing to be the state’s next chief executive in the Nov. 6 election.
Chairman Thomas Dalzell noted lawmakers’ raises don’t affect the fixed budget of the Legislature, but said the public looks at them as a show of how prudent the government is financially. He said the panel adopted “incremental, modest, symbolic increases,” and added that many state government workers are getting 4% raises in the new budget, while prison guards are getting 5%.
“There are plenty of people who are getting more than [the legislators’ raises] around the state, and people getting less. I think 3% is fine,” he said during the annual meeting at Sacramento City Hall.
Commissioner Margaret Wong said she supported the raise based partly on “looking at the economy of today and also the budget of California.”
The new salaries were set a week after the Legislature approved a new budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that projects a large surplus, with almost $14 billion in its rainy day budget fund.
“The state is in much, much better shape than all of our local cities and counties,” Commissioner Anthony Barkett said.
The governor’s salary was increased from $195,806 to $201,680 — the highest salary of any governor in the country. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf earns the second highest pay in the U.S. for a governor at $194,850, although he donates his entire salary to charity.
California legislators are by far the highest paid lawmakers in the country, even before the raise. The pay increase bumped their base salary from $107,242 to $110,459 annually. Pennsylvania has the second highest legislative salaries, at $87,200 annually.
The pay raise also will be granted to other state elected officials including the lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and the four members of the state Board of Equalization elected by districts.
Elected state officials have received pay raises seven years in a row after seeing their pay dip during the recession.
The salaries were set Tuesday by a four-person commission of California residents appointed by the governor. The commission was created when state voters approved Proposition 112 in 1990 to take salary setting for elected officials out of the hands of the Legislature.
Following a string of corruption scandals, the ballot measure also created new ethical standards for legislators and other state officials, banning outside speaking fees, putting a limit on gifts and requiring lawmakers to hold their meetings in public.