Sacramento aides get secret raises


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That is until the word got out, and now that it has, lawmakers are taking those staff raises back.

Members of the poor and disabled communities came to the Capitol to protest the deep cuts in state funding to their care and services that is supposed to help balance the state's budget.

News that Capitol staffers recently got raises didn't sit well with them.

"It makes me very angry. I hate it, and they shouldn't get raises," said Medi-Cal recipient Kathy Reed.

In the end, all the negative publicity pressured Assembly leaders to cancel the raises effective immediately.

"When the people say that despite the cuts and the savings we have achieved, they still don't approve of the timing or the appearance of these increases, and I certainly don't want that to detract on the job we have to do," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) of Los Angeles.

"For me, what happened was a mistake on our part as managers. We need to acknowledge and recognize, and we do, that in an economy this tough where Californians are hurting this bad, seeing something like this on our own staff is not the right thing to do," said Minority Leader (R) Mike Villines.

Before taking away the raises, both Democrat and GOP leaders approved:

More than half a million in raises to 136 staffers, averaging between five and 5.5 percent. That affected less than 10 percent of total staff, but three dozen were already making six-figure salaries.

Speaker Bass and Assemblyman Villines said the aides had not gotten raises in years, and they felt their hardworking staff deserved it considering the long hours.

Still, taxpayer groups say the raises shouldn't have happened in the first place.

"This continues to demonstrate an absolute disconnect between our political elite and those that they're supposed to represent," said Jon Coupal from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Assemblyman Villines said he will personally take a five percent cut in pay to show his staff he's willing to share the pain.

The Senate, on the other hand, continues to honor the pay freezes implemented in January.

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