A measure that would have limited state workers' pay to what the governor earns died in the Senate Government Organization Committee on Tuesday, with six votes in favor and seven against.
Tuesday morning's hearing on Senate Bill 1368 became an opportunity for lawmakers to tee off on CalPERS and CalSTRS executives as well as top-level administrators and faculty at the UC and CSU systems who make more -- some many times more -- that the $174,000 currently earned by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill's author and committee member, Sen. Joel Andersen, R-Alpine, juxtaposed news that two former CalPERS officials are being sued by the federal government with bonuses has paid to executives and concluded the money rewarded "a dismal performance."
Anderson also tied his bill to the current debate over whether the state should increase taxes.
"I cannot look at my constituents and say you're not doing your fair share," Anderson said, "while we continue to attract the best, the brightest -- and the greediest."
David Wolfe of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told the committee that high-end state wages are "unfair" and "ridiculous" and that "populist anger ... is intense."
But labor unions opposed the measure, as did the university systems and CalSTRS. Lobbyist Doug Chiapetta said that the unions he represents, AFSCME and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, "applaud the concept -- times are tough" but that they had concerns about overtime provisions of the bill and what it meant for collective bargaining.
A UC representative said the bill was "a rigid statutory scheme." A CSU spokewoman said the system was working on a "new process" for determining executive compensation.
No votes came from Democratic Sens. Ron Calderon, Ellen Corbett, Kevin de León, Noreen Evans, Ed Hernandez, Alex Padilla and Rod Wright.
Supporters included Anderson and Republican Sens. Tom Berryhill, Anthony Cannella, Mimi Walters and Mark Wyland as well as Democrat Leland Yee.