Monday, May 23, 2005

This Just In

According to our sources, CA legislators will be enjoying a 12% pay raise soon. The Reep Caucus discussed it today.

Oops, Chron has the story, too. So this isn't the scoop it'd have been had I been home to get the scoop-mail when it was sent. Oh well. I say go for it. Legislators are hardly overpaid. And though they get plenty of perks, they aren't really the kind of perks opposition hit pieces would have you believe. Oh - and no one start advocating tying legislator pay to timely budget passage. None of that, kids.

P.S. Local news coverage quotes Schwarzenegger Chief of Staff Pat Cleary as delivering the Governor's [predictable] criticism on how during a bad budget year, blah blah, negative message to voters, blah, legislators evil, blah, greedy blah blah [that's just paraphrasing, of course]. Does $110k and change sound like a lot? Yes. But - most Legislators must maintain two households - that alone is hard to do in California's real estate climate. Term limits, supposedly, gave us a more citizen legislature, meaning these are people who have stepped out of their normal career paths to serve the public good. It's an expensive job - if you want only the very rich to represent you, make it a low paying job too.

And salary critiques from Governor Schwarzenegger ring a bit hollow, don't they? What net value did he provide Californians that earned him his millions? His initial earnings came from downing performance-enhancers and lifting heavy objects.


Scott said...

Hey, what's wrong with tying legislator pay to timely budget passage? Their staff doesn't get paid when the budget is late, why should they?

As far as the pay raise, this was really bad timing, and the whole "highest paid legislators in the country" thing looks bad, too. However, as the Chron article points out, the legislature doesn't make decisions on their own pay. However, however, I don't think most Californians will take the time to understand that and the legislature will take yet another undeserved hit in approval ratings.

cd said...

I think the entire point of the FPPC was to make sure legislators and lobbyists understood that exchanging money for votes was, um, how to say it - illegal and immoral? The staff not getting paid part is crap - duh - obviously I agree with that. But the fine member are already willing to convene session to collect per diem, etc (which I don't totally fault them for) - so is it hard to predict that we'd get a rushed, crappy budget if it's what stood between members and paychecks? They're human with families and bills just like all of us.

Yes, the "highest paid" tag looks bad. But we're all the highest paying state in terms of housing, cost of living, etc. That never gets mentioned much, but it should.

You're right, of course that the Leg will take another ratings hit - especially from our poor, destitute governor who can barely keep his own kin housed and fed.

Scott said...

Of course you know that I have a personal stake in the staff not getting paid, so that particular comment was about 55% tongue-in-cheek.

Speaking of 55%,...yeah, you know where I'm going with that (insert Prop. 56 nostalgis here...)

The legislature will continue to take hits until it starts playing hardball with Arnold, but more specifically, with the Republican caucus, which holds the budget hostage every single year until the required number of legislators to get 67% are either bought off with pork for their districts, or they get everything they want (i.e. no new taxes, drastic cuts in services). </rant>

Until that changes, we'll always have a crappy budget. No matter who gets paid what at what time.