New California lawmakers to get less pay than predecessors
The 39 new state legislators taking office next month in California will be paid 5% less than their predecessors, thanks to a citizens panel that has been dominated by frugal appointees of former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But the panel may be more generous in the future. Two Schwarzenegger appointees' terms expire at the end of this year, and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has a chance to put in new people that would give him a majority on the seven-person Citizens Compensation Commission. In addition, the state is going to end this year better off financially than it has in years, thanks to tax increases approved by voters.
While dominated by Schwarzenegger appointees, the panel cut all legislators' and the governor’s pay by 18% in 2009, and this year approved a further 5% reduction, which affects all lawmakers including new ones and veterans, The group cited the state’s ongoing budget problems. The latest cut, which takes effect with the swearing in of new lawmakers Dec. 3, means California legislators will be paid $90,526 annually, down $4,765 from this year’s salary.
Commissioner Chuck Murray, a Schwarzenegger appointee whose term does not expire this year, said he does not feel sorry for the lawmakers. "They are still the highest paid in the United States," he said. Noting that the economy is still distressed and unemployment high, he added, "And I’m going to feel sorry for them? No. They are working."
New lawmakers, including some taking pay cuts from their current non-legislative jobs, are not complaining publicly. "I haven’t thought about it at all," said Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who is leaving a job as director of Asset Management for the city of Los Angeles to represent the 59th Assembly District. "I’ll be adjusting my budget accordingly."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Voters cast their ballots at a polling site in South Pasadena on Nov. 6. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times