A committee appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown voted Monday to give 3 percent raises and better benefits to the governor, top statewide elected officials and California lawmakers, the third consecutive annual pay increase after their salaries were cut during the recession.
Citing the need to undo the deep cuts in pay and benefits made during the recession, the Citizens Compensation Commission approved the salary increase on a 4-0 vote after less than an hour of discussion.
Commission members said California’s record revenues weren’t behind the increases.
“Salaries were cut so dramatically during the lean years, and we are still not close to parity,” commission member Nancy Miller said.
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The vote boosts Brown’s pay to $179,220, up from $177,467. It is still well below the $212,179 in pay set for his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, although Schwarzenegger declined to accept the money.
Rank-and-file California lawmakers – who are already the nation’s best-compensated – will now make six-figure salaries of $100,113. The commission previously cut lawmaker pay 18 percent and eliminated their state-owned vehicles during the recession.
The increases take effect in December.
The commission also approved a 10 percent increase in state payments for health and dental benefits, to the same level as state managers, who are civil servants.
The commission plans to discuss next year whether to boost salaries even higher, to pre-recession levels.
California considers being a legislator to be a full-time job, though they meet in Sacramento about eight months of the year. Many other state legislatures meet less frequently, sometimes every other year.
The commission was created by voters in 1990 when they approved Proposition 112. It sets salaries and benefits for state lawmakers and the eight constitutional officers elected statewide, as well as for members of the Board of Equalization, which deals with a wide range of tax issues.