Some lawmakers take pay cut, others don't

June 8, 2009 8:44:47 PM PDT
State lawmakers as well as city leaders all over California are making deep cuts. They're passing out economic pain, but are they feeling any themselves?

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San Jose is facing a $78 million deficit, cutting services and asking city workers to forego raises. Councilmember Sam Liccardo says the economic crisis demands the council lead by example.

"We're trying to show that we're willing to take cuts in our salary at the same time were asking employees to give up raises in theirs," says Councilmember Liccardo.

Liccardo along with council member Pete Constant are proposing a two-year 3.75 percent cut in the current council salary of $90,000. Councilmember Kansen Chu doesn't like the idea of a forced pay cut and favors instead voluntary, individual action.

"Taking a pay cut would definitely affect my family, my wife and two children," says Councilmember Chu.

Under the proposal, the mayor's salary would also be reduced, but that wouldn't impact Mayor Chuck Reed because he already rejected a 20 percent pay increase approved two years ago.

San Jose's mayor is entitled to $127,000, but has opted to make $105,000. It appears state lawmakers are even more reluctant to reduce their paycheck. Despite an unprecedented budget shortfall, five out of six lawmakers are accepting their full pay of about $116,000 a year.

Among likely voters, state lawmakers have an historic low 12 percent job approval rating. San Jose State University political science professor Terry Christensen, Ph.D., thinks state lawmakers need to do something after last month's trouncing in the special election.

"If they want to mend those fences and if they want to put other issues before us they need to make some gestures of good faith and a little pay cut would be a gesture of good faith," says Christensen.

The kudos Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California got for not collecting any salary are buried somewhere in the budget mess.

San Jose city officials take up their own pay debate on Tuesday.

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