While you were having Turkey and watching football on November 28, California implemented a huge pay raise for lawmakers. In a sneaky maneuver that took place while millions of Californians had hardly digested their Thanksgiving dinners—and also were unlikely to be paying attention to the news—members of the California State Legislature received am increase of 5.3 percent, effective December 2. This pay raise for lawmakers is about 3.5 times the current rate of inflation, which is about 1.5 percent. Lunch is on State Senator Mark DeSaulnier!
The pay raise for lawmakers is particularly unseemly because the California Legislature is already the . According to The Economist (Sept. 6, 2013), California legislators were — before the new raise — the highest paid in any state, receiving $90,500 per year.
Pity state legislators in Kansas, where the pay is $4,000 per year per legislator.
Pay raise for lawmakers already highest paid in the nation
According to the Contra Costa Times (Sat., Nov. 30), some legislators rejected the pay raise. However, the Times added: “None of the legislators declining the pay bump represent the Bay Area . . . ”
The pay raise for lawmakers in California was approved by an appointed citizens’ panel. The panel, not the State Legislature directly, determines the pay of state officials.
Gov. Jerry Brown received a $9,000 raise, putting his new salary at $173,987.
But the pattern is clear. Taxes go up and so does legislative pay. To pay for the pay raise for lawmakers, in November 2012, California’s voters approved Proposition 30, a tax hike adding one-quarter percentage point to the state’s sales tax. For example, in Concord, California, the sales tax, on January 1, 2013, went from 8.75 percent to 9.0 percent.
Prior to Proposition 30′s passage, California already had the nation’s highest sales tax.
Proposition 30 also raised California’s personal income tax rate. The top bracket became 13.3 percent, the highest top bracket of any state in the nation. Prior to Proposition 30, the top bracket was 12.3 percent, also the highest in the nation.
Taxing people at exorbitant levels is nothing new in California. The Golden State has the nation’s highest gasoline tax.
Working as a young reporter, Mark Twain covered the Nevada State Legislature. Twain found that the legislature met for 60 days every two years. Twain allegedly said at the time: “It’s far better the legislature meet every 60 years for two days than every two years for 60 days.”
It’s too bad Twain never got to cover the current California legislature.