The California Citizens Compensation Commission (CCCC) on Friday voted unanimously to give Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and state lawmakers a four percent increase, the Sacramento Bee reported. According to the Committee, a strong economy and a healthy state budget were justifiable reasons to provide the state's politicians with a pay raise.
The decision to raise lawmakers' salaries was based on “what is fair, what is appropriate in light of the economy, in light of the state budget,” Commission Chairman Thomas Dalzell told the Los Angeles Times. “The economy is doing well, the state is doing well, and it’s important work that they do.”
According to the Associated Press, this is the seventh consecutive year the governor has received a salary increase.
Current salaries, which went into effect on Dec. 3, 2018, currently sit at:
• Governor $201,680
• Lieutenant Governor $151,260
• Attorney General $175,182
• Controller $161,342
• Treasurer $161,342
• Secretary of State $151,260
• Superintendent of Public Instruction $175,182
• Insurance Commissioner $161,342
• Member, Board of Equalization $151,260
• Members, State Legislature $110,459
• Assembly Speaker/Senate President Pro Tem $127,026
• Minority Floor Leader $127,026
• Majority Floor Leader $118,743
• Second Ranking Minority Leader $118,743
Salaries will now be:
• Governor $209,747
• Lieutenant Governor $157,310
• Attorney General $182,189
• Controller $167,795
• Treasurer $167,795
• Secretary of State $157,310
• Superintendent of Public Instruction $182,189
• Insurance Commissioner $167,795
• Member, Board of Equalization $157,310
• Members, State Legislature $114,877
• Assembly Speaker/Senate President Pro Tem $132,107
• Minority Floor Leader $132,107
• Majority Floor Leader $123,492
• Second Ranking Minority Leader $123,492
The CCCC is made up of four members, all of which are appointed by the governor. The group is required to meet annually to vote on what happens to elected officials' salaries.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association wasn't happy about the decision.
“California still has the highest-paid legislature in the nation,” Jon Coupal, president of the association, said. “They have highly paid politicians in a very dysfunctional state. Quite frankly, I would say the economic health of California is in spite of policy decisions by state officials, not because of them.”
Here's where things get rather swampy: the Commission has come under fire recently for nepotism.
From the Times:
One state lawmaker was critical of raises that bump the annual pay of the four elected members of the state Board of Equalization to $157,310. Two years ago, the governor and Legislature stripped the board of most of its powers and duties and reduced the state board from 4,800 workers to just 400.
The downsizing of the board occurred after a series of audits found widespread nepotism and improper interference with decisions to open field offices and transfer staffers, some of whom were assigned to duties that promoted the elected officials.
Because of that, the board’s pay raises were inappropriate, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) said.
“It’s actions like this that erode public confidence in everything we do up at the Capitol,” Nazarian said. “This commission is voting to increase the pay for agency officeholders that don’t have 90% of their previous workload. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Nazarian is carrying a bill to ask California voters to eliminate the elected board, and he hopes his colleagues will act on it next year.
Dalzell said he supports looking next year at whether the salaries of the tax board are commensurate with members’ workload and reduced responsibilities.
California voters established the Committee in 1990. It was designed to take away the legislature's ability to set their own pay. In theory, this is a really good idea. In practice, it's horrible.
The issue here is the appointment aspect. Governors get to pick who sits on the board, which means they're going to pick friends, those who are likely to continually give raises. And you know this means Committee members will get their back scratched down the road. Just how they're repaid? We can only speculate.
If this Commission was about making sure politicians are held accountable, the people on the Commission would have to run for office. They would have to be chosen by the people, not by those whose pay they're dictating.
This entire saga is the definition of being knee deep in the swamp.