Uproar continued on Friday over the decision by the California Citizens Compensation Commission (CCCC) earlier this week to approve 4.2% pay increases for Gavin Newsom and 132 other elected state officials.
The Governor-appointed, four-member commission had previously voted for raises every year between 2013 and 2019 following the end of the 2008-2012 California budget crisis. The streak was broken last year as the CCCC didn’t approve a new round of raises last year due to the $54.3 billion budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with the state reporting a $38 billion-$76 billion surplus this year, as well as rapid success in pushing down COVID-19 rates, the CCCC once again voted for salary increases. Effective in December, the Governor will now receive an additional $8,809 a year, moving his salary up to $218,556 a year. State Assembly members and Senators will also see significant bumps in pay, getting an extra $4,824 a year, bringing their salaries up to $119,701 a year.
While the CCCC routinely meets every year by June 30th to decide on making salary changes, the 2021 increases have been controversial due to lingering economic effects of the pandemic. Most other sectors of California’s economy have not seen significant pay increases in years, with concern over the Governor-appointed group giving lawmakers their largest such boost in pay since 2013 when pay went up by 5%, but only having been reduced by 5% the previous year to the the continuing budget crisis.
Candidates running in the upcoming recall election have called on Newsom and other officials to not accept the raises and have noted that they themselves would not accept an increase if they were in a similar situation.
“It’s an insult to taxpayers,” said 2018 Gubernatorial candidate and 2021 recall candidate John Cox in a statement on Thursday. “Over the last year, millions of Californians have lost their jobs and thousands of small businesses have been closed forever. The last thing Newsom and the political insiders should do is accept higher government salaries.
“He needs to apologize to Californians who have suffered through the pandemic while he and his family made millions from a charity that raises money from companies and individuals doing business with the state.”
Former San Diego Mayor and 2021 recall candidate Kevin Faulconer also called on Newsom to turn down the pay increase in a video posted on Friday on Twitter.
Decline the pay raise Gavin. pic.twitter.com/tLvuumRgS9
— Kevin Faulconer (@Kevin_Faulconer) June 11, 2021
“After costing millions of Californians their jobs and income, Gavin Newsom now believes that he deserves a salary increase,” stated Faulconer. “I’ve called on him to reject the salary increase and he refuses to do so. It’s clear that he cares more about his bank account than serving the Californians he was elected to serve. Gavin, decline the pay raise.”
In a previous statement, Faulconer also noted that “Now is not the time for a salary increase for Governor Newsom. Millions of Californians have lost their jobs. We have $30 billion in unemployment fraud. Governor Newsom, reject the salary increase today.”
Nearly $9k more a year for Newsom
The CCCC has responded to the backlash to their decision by pointing out that others have already received raises and that the California economy is improving enough to warrant a raise.
“I don’t know what the rationale is for not giving elected officials raises,” said CCCC Chairman Tom Dalzell earlier this week. “By any measure, California is doing very well in terms of vaccination and infection containment. The economy is moving back.”
However, experts point out that many other crises that may require additional funds, such as the Northern and Central Californian droughts, the upcoming wildfire season, and continuing homelessness and affordable housing concerns shouldn’t warrant raises just yet.
“California is still behind on so many other things, and isn’t even fully out of the pandemic just yet,” accountant Morgan Lopez, who consults on several cities budgets in Southern California, explained to the Globe on Friday. “Last time the CCCC didn’t have increases was ten years ago. For several years they actually reduced the salaries of the Governor and Senators and everyone because of how bad the shape of the California budget was.”
“And the thing is, many, including the Governor, can afford not to accept a salary, or at least a salary increase, for a few years while the state gets back on track and they avoid several emergencies. Newsom is worth $20 million. I think he can go without an extra nine grand for another year.”
“This is just more fodder for the recall to be honest.”
All salary increases are expected to come into effect at the end of the year.
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