California's salary setting commission is bracing next week to consider a 5 percent pay cut for legislators and other statewide officeholders, in keeping with a similar cut proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown for state workers.
Commissioner Chuck Murray said today that he is "100 percent" sure that the pay cut for elected officials will be on the table at the commission's May 31 meeting. He supports the reduction, though he didn't craft it, he said.
"Even though the legislators don't consider themselves state workers, we do," Murray said.
No written proposal has yet been released to the public.
Legally, the pay commission could not consider a raise for officeholders, even if it wanted to, because the state finance department concluded today that there is a negative balance in a reserve fund for economic uncertainties.
Murray said the 5 percent pay cut, if approved, would apply to constitutional officers as well - ranging from the governor to the state schools superintendent and the four elected members of the Board of Equalization.
Murray said he could not predict whether a pay cut would pass the seven-member compensation board, whose members are appointed by the governor to set compensation for statewide elected officials.
Salaries for California's elected officials currently range from $173,987 for Brown to $95,291 for legislators.
The pay commission cut officeholders' salaries by 18 percent in 2009. Over the past several years it also has reduced legislators' living expenses from $173 to $142 per day, eliminated a lease-car program for lawmakers, and sliced state contributions for their medical, dental and other benefits.
Commission Chairman Tom Dalzell said today that he supports the notion of shared sacrifice. But it would be premature to cut elected officials' pay this year when the fate of Brown's 5 percent wage cut for state workers has not been decided.
"It's putting the cart before the horse," he said.