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Lawmakers, Jerry Brown get another pay raise

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Gov. Jerry Brown, departing for China for a climate-focused trip, said China has become the great hope for the world on environmental issues during an interview on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.
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Gov. Jerry Brown, departing for China for a climate-focused trip, said China has become the great hope for the world on environmental issues during an interview on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state politicians will receive a 3 percent pay hike starting in December, their fifth raise in as many years as California’s budget picture continues to improve.

The raises, approved Monday by the California Citizens Compensation Commission, come on top the 4 percent salary increases that kicked in late last year. Brown’s pay will climb from $190,102 to $195,805, while rank-and-file lawmakers will go from $104,117 to $107,240.

Salaries for other statewide politicians like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Treasurer John Chiang also will rise.

The raises, which came amid five years of economic and budget recovery, represent another incremental increase after the appointed commission, beginning in 2009, moved to significantly slash lawmakers’ pay down from $116,208 to $95,291, a nearly 20 percent cut. In 2009, California voters approved a measure, Proposition 1F, that banned raises during years of state budget deficits.

Before last year’s 4 percent raise, pay increased by 3 percent in 2015, 2 percent in 2014, and 5 percent in 2013. On Monday, commissioners said it was only fair politicians continued to be made whole following the reductions.

“We’re still a little bit short,” said Tom Dalzell, the panel’s longtime chairman.

But commissioners again held off on more dramatically boosting the salaries of Brown and Becerra, even though the governor and attorney general positions pay significantly less than what many local government officials earn, according to studies produced by the commission.

There has been broad agreement in past years, including among taxpayer advocate groups, that the governor’s salary is too low given the size of the state and the responsibilities of the post.

In addition to the salaries, California lawmakers also receive tax-free per diem payments for every day the Legislature is in session, compensation that during the 2015 legislative year averaged about $34,000 per legislator. Several lawmakers who live within a short commute of the state Capitol do not accept the payments.

The commission was created by voter-approved Proposition 112 in 1990. Along with setting salaries, it also is charged with establishing medical, dental, insurance and other benefits.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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