Politics & Government

The Buzz: Pay raise takes effect for California lawmakers after several years of reductions

Several years of shrinking salaries for California lawmakers ended Sunday, when a 5.3 percent raise that pushes legislators’ base pay from $90,526 to $95,291 kicked in.

It’s the first pay hike in more than six years for the state’s 120 legislators and 12 constitutional officers following repeated rounds of salary reductions approved by the California Citizens Compensation Commission during the recession.

Critics of the salary cuts have said that inadequate pay deters talented people from running for state office. Others, though, contend that higher pay is not justified when so many people and businesses in the state continue to struggle financially.

California’s base pay for lawmakers is the highest in the country, although they do not receive pensions. Legislators also receive tax-free per diem payments while the Legislature is in session, totaling about $30,000 a year.

So far, fewer than a dozen legislators have asked the state controller to withhold the extra money from their paychecks. That’s fewer than the 21 lawmakers who rejected a 2.75 percent pay hike in 2007, just as the economy began to turn downward and as several lawmakers prepared for tough races in 2008.

– Jim Miller


Redlands Republican Bill Emmerson’s resignation from the state Senate took effect Sunday. Gov. Jerry Brown now has 14 days to issue a proclamation setting a special election to fill the vacancy in the Republican-leaning 23rd Senate District, which includes parts of San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. If Brown issues his proclamation after Thursday, the special ballot could be consolidated with the June 3 statewide primary. If so, a special primary election likely would be March 25.

– Jim Miller


“They need to come off their high cloud efforts to save Africa or wherever they take adventure vacations ...”

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle that tech companies face a city backlash if they don't change their “self-centered culture” and “start making things better for folks right here.”