California pay commission to vote on cutting lawmaker's salaries

Published: Thursday, May. 31, 2012 - 12:12 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 31, 2012 - 7:56 am

California's compensation commission will vote today on a 5 percent pay cut for Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators, and state constitutional officers from controller to treasurer to Board of Equalization member.

Charles Murray of the California Citizens Compensation Commission said Wednesday that he will bring his written proposal to today's meeting of the pay panel but may step aside if another commissioner has a similar plan.

"I think they should lead by example," Murray said of state officeholders, noting that his 5 percent pay cut proposal mirrors the percentage that Brown is seeking from state workers.

Asked about prospects for a vote today, Murray said simply, "We're going to force one."

Murray's plan would reduce Brown's salary from $173,987 to $165,288. Lawmakers would see a nearly $5,000 cut – from $95,291 to $90,527. Attorney General Kamala Harris and state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson would see their pay drop from $151,127 to $143,571.

Other affected officeholders would include the state treasurer, controller and insurance commissioner, whose salaries would fall from $139,189 to $132,630; and the lieutenant governor, secretary of state and Board of Equalization members would see a pay cut from $130,490 to $123,966.

Brown projects a $15.7 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and he has proposed to bridge the gap with tax increases and program cuts, including a shift to a 38-hour, four-day workweek for state workers. When he unveiled his plan earlier this month, Brown said his administration "would do more than what we ask state employees to do," suggesting that he and others would voluntarily take pay cuts.

Though state workers have been forced to take furlough days in years past because of California's budget crisis, they ultimately were restored to full pay. Legislators and other officeholders took an 18 percent pay cut in 2009 that has not been restored.

Tom Dalzell, chairman of the pay commission, has expressed support for shared sacrifice but said it would be premature to cut elected officials' pay this year when the fate of Brown's 5 percent salary cut for state workers has not been decided. Murray countered that he would prefer to vote on a pay cut for elected officials now, then rescind it if Brown's share-the-pain proposal for state workers dies.

The pay commission is a seven-member panel of gubernatorial appointees created by voter passage of Proposition 112 in 1990. It is charged with setting pay for all statewide elected officials.

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