Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown can’t get a pay raise today – and it’s his own fault

Gov. Jerry Brown talks about his revised budget plan at the Capitol on May 11, 2017.
Gov. Jerry Brown talks about his revised budget plan at the Capitol on May 11, 2017.

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This is usually the time of year when the California Citizens Compensation Commission considers a pay raise (or cut) for the Legislature, the governor and other statewide constitutional officers. But an annual meeting planned for today in Sacramento has been canceled because the seven-member panel has four vacancies.

The commission was created by voters in 1990 to independently determine salary levels for California’s elected officers. Members are appointed by the governor and serve six-year terms. Since former Chairman Tom Dalzell finished his service last year, however, Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to name a replacement.

That leaves the commission without enough members to even call a quorum as it faces a deadline six weeks away. It must meet by June 30 of each year to determine whether to make any salary changes, which are set to take effect in December. Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an e-mail they are “moving as quickly as possible to fill” the vacancies.

Last year, the panel voted to provide 4 percent raises, boosting Brown’s annual salary to $190,103 from $182,791, and rank-and-file lawmakers’ base pay to $104,118 per year from $100,113. The increases can sometimes be a political liability for legislators in competitive districts, though they are still receiving less than in 2009, when the commission instituted an 18 percent cut amid the economic recession. According to the State Controller’s Office, only Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, declined last December’s raise.

WORTH REPEATING: “The reality is, people are going to drive – they have to drive – down here.” – Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, on Brown’s $30 million plan for a state garage on R Street

THAT’S WILD: The Capitol gets thousands of visitors every day, but it’s unlikely that many of them are as cute as the Magellanic penguins, African crested porcupine and baby kangaroo that SeaWorld plans to bring as part of its annual lobby day. The “animal ambassadors” will hang out on the north steps from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then do meet-and-greets with legislators and their staff at 2 p.m. in Room 125 and with the governor’s office at 3:30 p.m. This will be SeaWorld’s first visit since California passed a ban last year on breeding orcas in captivity and featuring them in entertainment shows, a years-long effort that followed the firestorm ignited by the 2013 documentary Blackfish. That controversy ultimately led SeaWorld to end its whale-breeding program on its own, with the last orca born in captivity in April at its park in San Antonio.

BY THE NUMBERS: About 80 percent of empty beverage containers were recycled in California last year, according to a report released last week by CalRecycle – but that’s the lowest rate since 2008, raising an alarm among recycling advocates. They blame the shuttering of hundreds of recycling centers over the past 15 months, caused by falling commodities prices and reduced state subsidies that have sent recyclers into a financial crisis, and they are urging California officials to intervene to fix the program.

REPUTATION REHAB: Wells Fargo is still trying to repair the damage to its image from revelations that, for years, employees opened millions of unauthorized customer accounts to meet aggressive sales targets. After agreeing to a $185 million settlement last September and firing a handful of its top executives, the bank last month released a report that blamed those leaders, as well as a cutthroat sales culture and decentralized structure, for causing the problems. The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee will jointly hold a hearing to review the findings and whether Wells Fargo has done enough to address the causes of the scandal that it identified, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

MUST READ: When Jerry Hill gets ticked off, you might get a new law

COUNTY ME IN: The counties have come to town, eager to weigh in on the some of the biggest issues of the session. The California State Association of Counties holds its annual two-day legislative conference, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. In addition to a featured speech from Attorney General Xavier Becerra during the luncheon today and lawmaker visits scheduled for the afternoon, attendees will hear about the “new Wild West” of marijuana policy, the challenges and opportunities of the Trump administration, and a major effort to overhaul the state’s bail system.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, who turns 40 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff. Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.