Saturday, November 14, 2009

Legislators Say: Do As I Say Not As I Do

Today in the Humboldt Times-Standard, I found an op-ed piece that revealed a well-kept secret that I don't recall reading about in the Bee: our Legislature thinks they don't deserve the same pay cut that has been inflicted on other state employees.

Apparently the California Citizens Compensation Commission decreed back in May that legislators' pay should be cut 18% effective December 2010, from $116,208 to $95,291, and also that per-diem, car, medical and other benefits should be cut 18% effective next month.

And legislators are feeling so threatened and deprived, they have been whining to AG Jerry Brown, claiming that if they are based on budget problems rather than on the constitutional criteria that are presumably prescribed as a basis for the commission's decisions.

What is not immediately clear is whether or not legislators have read the existing legal opinions which the commission presumably based its actions on. It's also not clear why the AG should spend its remaining unfurloughed staff time on this rather than on truly important matters that affect the whole state.

It's also not clear if CalPERS has any legal basis for putting legislators in their place, nor if they have the moral authority to do so, given recent reports of funny business highlighted in previous posts. But it's in the interests of CalPERS members and retirees, even those who reside in other states, for legislators to follow the rules and take their fiscal medicine, just like everyone else.

As my mom used to say, 'joys shared grow happier; sorrows shared are weakened.'

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