Democrat Leaders Support Pay Hikes, Despite Deficit

How arrogant are California legislators in dealing with the deficit?

Back in late 2009 legislators were just beginning to get an inkling of the fact that voters were becoming informed in regard to the huge public pension debt and the influence special interests from labor unions to corporations were having on legislators seeking reelection. In response, legislative pay and benefits were cut by 18%, as were car allowances and per diem stipends for living expenses.

Additionally, the Senate required aides making annual salaries of $50,000 or more to take one unpaid day off per month – a program that was cancelled last July. ( The Assembly did not impose staff salary cuts or furlough days.)

I now hear some politicians saying the recession is over and the economy is on the rebound. I haven’t seen facts that support that belief, nor am I sure that voters out there seeking a job or trying to figure out how to pay this month’s household bills believe it.

That’s why I consider it a slap in the face that our legislators in Sacramento have just decided to approve higher pay for some aides. Yes, folks, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (aka “Smart Growth” Steinberg), who committed to cutting 10% of the Senate’s operating budget this year (about $10 million), and Assembly Speaker John Perez, whose policy was “no raises,” have just approved higher pay for 136 Senate and 95 Assembly aides, using the justification that the increases reflect “job promotions or other extraordinary situations” and that overall personnel costs and spending have dropped.

Perhaps if another Field Poll were to be conducted, state legislators might find that their 80% disapproval rating last year (the lowest rating since the poll began checking it in 1983) will sink to another low. Can Governor Jerry Brown get the two-thirds approval vote from legislators he needs to put on the ballot the same tax and fee increases that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unsuccessfully put before voters two years ago? He thinks so.

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