Governor’s Appointed Commission Boosts Ruling-Class Pay Raises

Gov. Gavin Newsom will soon be paid $209,747 per year, up from his current salary of $201,680, the Sacramento Bee reports, but there’s more. Starting December 2, the top Democrat and Republican legislators will also get a 4 percent salary boost to $132,107, while the pay of “rank and file lawmakers” will rise to $114,877.

Also in line for raises of 4 percent are the lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, treasurer, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and members of the state board of equalization. The raises are not due to any performance measure this elite group might have met or surpassed. The raises come courtesy of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which cited a “strong economy and a healthy state budget.” 

Established by Proposition 112 in 1990, “the Commission has seven members, appointed by the Governor for six-year terms.” The CCCC website lists only four members and according to the Bee, they voted 4-0 for the legislative and executive pay hikes. That seems to be a Commission trend in recent years.

In 2018 and 2017 they gave elected officials a raise of 3 percent. In 2016 it was 4 percent and in 2015, 3 percent. In 2014, elected officials got a raise, but the CCCC site doesn’t say how much. In 2013 and 2012, elected officials bagged a raise of 5 percent, and in 2011 the commission kicked in “a $300 per month car allowance for legislators.” The last reduction, 18 percent, came in 2009, and since then the governor’s appointed Commission has kept the gravy train running strong. The money all comes from taxpayers, who might keep a couple of things in mind. 

The “healthy budget” that allegedly justifies the raises ignores California’s unfunded pension liability of $1.5 trillion. The raise is not based on any performance measure, and that is also true for government employee unions. They run campaigns for politicians, who basically give them what they want. As we noted, in 2013, the year elected officials got a 5 percent raise, Gov. Jerry Brown offered the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) a 4.5 percent raise, a guarantee of no furloughs, and protection of health care and retirement benefits. So the SEIU had good reason to demonstrate at the state Capitol proclaiming, “this is our house!”

If taxpayers think that’s a bad deal, it would be hard to blame them. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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