Commission Votes to Increase Lawmakers' Salaries to 2011 Levels - NBC Southern California

Commission Votes to Increase Lawmakers' Salaries to 2011 Levels

Years after lawmakers were asked to tighten their own belts, their pay gets a boost



    Commission Votes to Increase Lawmakers' Salaries to 2011 Levels
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    An exterior of the state capitol is shown on January 5, 2006 in Sacramento, California.

    The commission that sets the pay of California lawmakers and statewide elected officials such as the governor and attorney general has voted to restore a 5 percent pay cut it made to salaries last year as state employees faced furloughs.

    Wednesday's vote was 5-1 in favor of restoring the wages to 2011 levels. Chairman Thomas Dalzell opted not to vote because a tie-breaker was not necessary.

    The base salary of rank and-file lawmakers has dropped from $116,208 five years ago to $90,526, while the governor's salary has declined from a high of $212,179 in 2008 to $165,288.

    Lawmakers now will make $95,290 a year while the governor will be paid $174,000.

    Members of the California Citizens Compensation Commission cited the state's improving finances and the lack of a budget deficit.

    Commissioner Scott Somers noted that the 5 percent pay cut made in 2012 "was very heavily driven by the financial condition of the state," but said he struggled over whether now is the right time to raise salaries in light of the recent discussion over the state budget.

    Brown, a Democrat, has urged lawmakers not to restore all the spending cuts for state programs made during the recession.

    "How do we now say, `But by the way, we've got enough money to restore the 5 percent cut for you guys,'?" he said. "That feels a little funny to me. ... That's a little bit of a dilemma for me."

    Commissioner John Stites, who was appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was the lone member of the panel to vote against the pay increase.

    Even with this pay raise, lawmakers are still nowhere near earning the $116,208 they were bringing in six years ago. In 2009, lawmakers saw their pay slashed by 18 percent -- to $95,291.