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Governor, legislators could face pay cut like other state workers

May 21, 2012 | 11:59 am

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A week after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed to effectively cut state worker pay by 5%, some members of a state panel that sets the salary for elected officials said Monday a reduction should also be extended to the governor and legislators.

Brown proposed to reduce the workweek for many state workers to 38 hours as part of an effort to eliminate a $16-billion budget deficit.  That caught the attention of members of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which meets May 31 to take its annual vote on salaries for elected officials.

"The governor wants public employees to take a 5% pay cut, and legislators are public employees," said Commissioner Chuck Murray. "I would vote to bring legislators in line with what the governor is doing with other public employees."

Commissioner John Stites noted there is a precedent for such action. The commission slashed the pay of lawmakers and the governor 18% in 2009 after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a similar reduction for other state employees.

"I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen now," said Stites, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant. Commissioner Kathy Sands agreed it is "more likely" the panel will vote next week to reduce salaries for elected officials, now that the governor has proposed reductions for other state employees. But  it is unclear whether the other four commissioners would also vote for a pay cut.

California legislators are paid $95,291 annually, the highest base pay for lawmakers in the country. The governor is paid $173,987.

One thing the commission is guaranteed not to do is approve pay raises.

That is because California voters approved a ballot measure in 2009 that prohibited salary increases for legislators and the governor in years in which the finance director certifies that there is a negative balance of more than 1% in the state’s Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties. Finance Director Ana Matosantos has certified the negative balance, her office said Monday.

RELATED:

Jerry Brown unveils revised budget plan

No pay raise if deficit remains, elected officials warned

California's legislative analyst says deficit may be even higher

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference May 14 in Los Angeles at which  he announced his newest budget proposal. Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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