Cut of state elected officials’ salaries is in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s hands

State Elected Officials\' Salaries

I wrote a post earlier today about the fact that the California Citizens Compensation Commission is going to be deciding on Tuesday whether or not to cut elected officials’ salaries by 10 percent to help deal with a $15.2 billion state budget deficit. In case you are wondering how much these folks get paid, see the graphic above. You will see that these people ARE massively overpaid! They certainly CAN afford a 10% cut in their humongous salaries!

Both of the Democratic Legislative Leaders, Karen Bass in the Assembly and Darrell Steinberg in the State Senate, commented on the matter in an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Neither sounded all that committed to reducing the salary of at least some of the state elected officials (those already in office will keep their current salaries – only the newly elected officials will get a cut in pay).

I quickly got a response from Jim Evans, an assistant to Sen. Steinberg:

“Neither Speaker Bass nor my boss made any comment on whether lawmakers should get pay cuts or not. Its the commission’s decision and everyone respects that. Sen. Steinberg will of course abide by whatever the commission decides and the Speaker said the same in the story. My comment in the story only speaks to the possibility that some lawmakers will have their pay cut while others will not.”

So Bass and Steinberg are backing away from this whole mess. Which means we need to look a little closer at the California Citizens Compensation Commission. I found the following information on the Commission’s website:

The Commission was created in June 1990 through the voter’s passage of Proposition 112. This Proposition also prohibited honoraria and limited gifts for legislators and other elected State officers. It was placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

The Commission has seven members. All seven are appointed by the Governor for overlapping six-year terms. Proposition 112 established specific background requirements for each seat, as follows:

  • executive of a major corporation incorporated in California;
  • small-business owner;
  • officer or member of a labor organization (2 seats);
  • person with expertise in compensation, such as an economist, market researcher, or personnel manager;
  • member of a non-profit public interest organization; and
  • person who is representative of the general population, who may be, among others, a retiree, homemaker, or person of median income.

Proposition 112 requires the Commissioners to meet by June 30 of each year to decide what, if any, changes should be made to the salaries and health, dental, and similar group insurance benefits for members of the Legislature, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and members of the Board of Equalization. All actions of the Commission are effective on a December-to-December basis.

The Commission does not decide per diem. That is set by the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (formerly known as the Board of Control). The Commission does not have jurisdiction over retirement benefits. The California Public Employees Retirement System administers the retirement benefits for elected State officers who still receive them. (Under Proposition 140, members entering the Legislature in or after 1990 do not receive State retirement benefits.)

In reaching salary and benefit decisions, Proposition 112 requires the Commission to consider: 1) the amount of time required to perform the duties of the office; 2) the salaries and benefits received by other elected and appointed officials in state and local government, the judiciary, and the private sector, realizing that public sector officers do not expect to receive the same salaries and benefits as private sector executives; and 3) the responsibility and authority of the office.

Members of the California Citizens Compensation Commission (current as of June 8, 2007):

  • Charles Murray holds the “small business” seat. He has served as president of CMI Insurance Services since 1980. He was appointed to the Commission as chairman by Governor Schwarzenegger. His term expires Dec. 31, 2010.
  • Ruth Lopez Novodor holds the “non-profit public interest organization” seat. She serves on the board of directors of the Greater Los Angeles YWCA and since 1994 has been co-CEO of Beverly Oncology and Imaging Center Medical Group. She was appointed to the Commission by Governor Schwarzenegger. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2012.
  • Kathy Sands holds the “general population” seat. She is retired from Placer Savings and Loan and has served as mayor and council member for the City of Auburn. She was appointed to the Commission by Governor Schwarzenegger. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2012.
  • William Feyling holds one of the two “labor” seats. He has served as executive director for Carpenters 46 Northern California Counties Conference Board since 2001. He was appointed to the Commission by Governor Schwarzenegger. His term expires Dec. 31, 2010.
  • Larry Gotlieb holds the “major corporation executive” seat. He is Vice President for Government and Public Affairs and Associate Corporate Counsel at KBHome. He was appointed to the Commission by Governor Davis. His term expires Dec. 31, 2008.
  • Thomas Dominguez holds one of the two “labor” seats. He has been an Investigator with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department since 1986. He served on the Commission from 1997 to 2002 and was reappointed by Governor Davis. His term expires Dec. 31, 2008.
  • Cristina Vazquez holds the “compensation expert” seat. She has been International Vice President and Regional Manager of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) since 1995. She was appointed to the Commission by Governor Davis. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2008.

As you can see, four of the seven commissioners were appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. So of the Commission does not vote to cut the state elected officials’ salaries, we can blame Schwarzenegger. The ball is in his, and his commissioners, court. Let’s see if they have the huevos to cut those salaries.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.