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Bill to cut state commissioners' salaries is killed

April 26, 2011 |  1:42 pm

Lawmakers on Tuesday backed away from a proposal to eliminate six-figure salaries on state commissions that serve as soft landing spots for termed-out legislators.

Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) failed to win approval of a proposal that certain commission members who now get salaries of up to $128,000 yearly instead receive expenses of $100 a day, arguing that the state cannot afford the higher amount.  

"There are a lot of commissions where people make over $100,000 a year and show up once or twice a month’’ for meetings,  Strickland told the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

The handful of commissions targeted by Strickland’s SB 153 included the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which met just 14 times in 2010.

Nonetheless, its members are paid $128,109 annually. As one of his last acts before leaving office, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed former Republican Sens. Roy Ashburn and Dennis Hollingsworth to the panel, which also includes ex-lawmakers Bonnie Garcia, George Plescia, Alberto Torrico, and Denise Moreno Ducheny.

Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) objected to Strickland’s bill, noting that members of the state commissions do important work and are busy carrying out their duties even on days when the panels don’t meet. He accused supporters of the bill of unfairly scapegoating former legislators.

"Are you suggesting termed-out legislators would not be good arbiters ... assisting people who are unemployed?’’ Wright asked supporters of the bill during the hearing.

Strickland said that members of high-paying commissions still should be willing to serve for $100 a day to cover expenses as those on most other state commissions do. The Democratic-controlled committee voted him down.

-- Patrick McGreevy

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