Pay raise could be on the way for state lawmakers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Marjory Payne isn't happy that the governor, state lawmakers and other elected officials might be getting a raise in these troubled budget times.

The Bakersfield hospital worker said she believes there are more worthy recipients.

"Teachers, for example, for what they're doing there should be an increase," said Payne.

On Wednesday, the California Citizens Compensation Commission will debate the issue of whether to restore cuts made four years ago to salaries of state elected officials.

For example, the salary for governor went from $212,179 a year to $165,288 a year. State legislators, such as senators and Assembly members, saw salaries dip from $116,208 to $90,526.

The cuts were made when California was in deep budget crisis.

The commission is an independent body that sets salary schedule for state lawmakers. Its chairman, Tom Dalzell, said he has received data that supports full to partial restoration of cuts. But he stressed no decision has yet been made.

"Just because the data supports it doesn't mean that as a matter of policy the commission will chose to do so," said Dalzell in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Dalzell said that when compared to salaries of county or city officials, state lawmakers make much less. A spot check revealed that the salary for Bakersfield city manager is listed at $231,129 per year.

The Kern County administrative officer position has a pay range of between $172,164 to $210,168 annually. Kern County district attorney is listed at $172,306, and a member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors is listed at $97,022, per information listed on the Kern County personnel website.

Eyewitness News asked several representatives for their take on whether a pay raise should be given. Only one local representative, Republican Assembly member Shannon Grove, said no raise should be given.

"California legislators are already paid the highest in the nation," said Grove.

Her fellow Republican state Sen. Jean Fuller said she had no opinion on the matter, preferring to wait and see what the Citizens Compensation Commission will decide.

Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas also avoided taking a stand.

"It's not up to me," said Salas.

The two candidates for 16th District Senate seat, Democrat Leticia Perez and Republican Andy Vidak, both said no pay raise should be given to lawmakers at the present time.