California Panel Approves Pay Increase for Brown, Lawmakers

A California panel has decided that Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers deserve a 5 percent salary increase now that the state’s budget has a surplus and public employees have been offered a pay raise.

The seven-member California Citizens Compensation Commission voted today to increase Brown’s pay to about $173,552 and lawmakers’ base salaries to about $95,052. The state treasurer, controller and other elected officers also will see their pay rise. The panel’s decision doesn’t need further approval.

Lawmakers sent Brown, a Democrat, a $96.3 billion general fund budget June 14 that tempers spending to less than 1 percent above the current year, even though voters in November approved a temporary increase in sales and income taxes. It’s the third time in as many years California will have a budget in place before the fiscal year begins July 1.

Voters in 1990 passed an initiative that created the California Citizens Compensation Commission. Appointed by the governor, the panel sets salaries of constitutional officers and members of the legislature.

The commission in 2009 cut the officials’ pay by 18 percent after former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and the legislature agreed to force state workers to take three unpaid days off each month, equivalent to a 14 percent wage reduction. Schwarzenegger never cashed his state paycheck while in office. The panel lowered the salaries by another 5 percent last year.

Brown reached a deal with the state’s largest public-employee union that grants workers a 4.5 percent pay increase, phased in over two years beginning in 2014 if revenue growth continues. If revenue fails to meet a minimum target, the entire pay increase would begin later, in 2015. The union must still ratify the deal.

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