CA lawmakers take salary cut

June 9, 2008 7:07:51 PM PDT
The effort to trim California's substantial budget deficit could mean a rather sizeable pay cut for state lawmakers and it's an idea, they don't seem opposed to.

It's not surprising state lawmakers are publicly willing to take one for the team. We couldn't find a single one who would speak out against cutting their salaries.

"We do need to show that we're not only sensitive to, but very concerned about the cuts we're expecting everyone to have to take," said Assm. Mark Leno (D) of San Francisco.

The Independent California Citizens Compensation Commission is considering cutting the pay of lawmakers and Constitutional Officers for the first time ever to help close the state's double digit deficit.

It has approved raises of between two and 18 percent in each of the last three years.

The Governor now makes $212,179 a year, though Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no salary since being sworn in.

Leaders of the Assembly and Senate make $133,639.

And rank-and-file lawmakers make $116,208, plus they get housing, food and car allowances that add to tens of thousands of dollars more.

California has the highest paid state lawmakers in the country.

"It's time for them to take their position as the salary commission of the state and represent the people of the state of California and set those salaries where they should be," said Ted Costa, from People's Advocate.

With so many other departments like Education and Social Services scheduled for budget cuts, lawmaker salaries seemed untouchable.

State Senator Abel Maldonado (R) Santa Maria is glad the commission has picked up where he left off. Hardly anyone from both parties supported his salary cut proposal earlier this year.

"They'll cut everything else in the budget, but not their salaries, which is a double standard. I don't think it's appropriate," said State Senator Maldonado.

Since the Commission isn't allowed to cut pay in the middle of a lawmaker's term, the potential salary cuts would only apply to politicians who win or get re-elected in November.

The Commission will begin discussions at 10 percent cuts. Given the budget deficit is in the billions, such small cuts may be more successful in sending a message, than actually helping balance the state budget.


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