Betty Yee was California’s only constitutional officer to take a pay cut during COVID-19
September 7, 2020
“Millions of Californians have lost their jobs, and our state continues to reel from a pandemic-induced recession … State workers absorbed a pay cut to help balance the budget. It is important to me to make the same sacrifice as my team,”Yee told The Bee.
From the Sacramento Bee:
In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California State Legislature forced the vast majority of the state’s 236,000 employees to take a 9.23% pay cut starting in July.
It wasn’t voluntary. California has a $54 billion budget shortfall because of the devastating economic effects of COVID-19, making cuts necessary.
In contrast, our oh-so-fiscally responsible elected friends in the Legislature were asked to share the sacrifice by taking a voluntary pay cut.
Only five did.
A story by The Sacramento Bee’s Wes Venteicher revealed that very few legislators have bothered to cut their own pay voluntarily. There are 120 California legislators, and only five of them — or 4% — have taken a pay cut.
One outgoing legislator, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, requested a 15% pay cut. Four assembly members, all Democrats, took 10% percent cuts as well. That’s the spirit.
None of the Sacramento-area’s legislators — Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, Assemblyman Jim Cooper, Assemblyman Ken Cooley and state Sen. Richard Pan — are on the list of legislators who took voluntary pay cuts.
Most state legislators make $114,877 per year. Then there’s the $206 “per diem,” the daily amount most legislators receive to help pay their expenses for showing up to work at the Capitol.
That’s not Silicon Valley or Hollywood money, but it isn’t chump change, either.
Conversely, the average salary of a California state worker is $74,350. That’s not a lot of money in most areas of the state. Try making ends meet on that salary out in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and a lot of other places in the state with escalating, punishing housing costs. Then cut it by 9.23%. Looks like about $67,000 to us.
Note that a lot of state workers make far less than $74,000. Take 9.23% out of $37,000 or $24,000, and you’re talking about making some hard choices involving food, shelter and utilities.
Gov. Newsom’s yearly state salary of $210,000 is an asterisk in his checking account compared to his net worth. Newsom, along with most other statewide elected officials with the exception of State Controller Betty Yee, conveniently forgot to cut his own pay until The Sacramento Bee helpfully highlighted the oversight.
A few days ago, all seven of the remaining eight laggard statewide elected officials filed for their pay cut, retroactive to July.
State Controller Betty Yee, who apparently still takes California taxpayer’s money seriously (it’s her actual job), filed hers right on the button in July.
“Millions of Californians have lost their jobs, and our state continues to reel from a pandemic-induced recession … State workers absorbed a pay cut to help balance the budget. It is important to me to make the same sacrifice as my team,” Yee told The Bee.
But what of our four Board of Equalization members? You know, the folks who do all that tax stuff?
Three of them have now requested the pay cuts. A fourth, Ted Gaines, hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Consider this another heads-up.
Speaking of the Cheap, Tight-Fisted Guardians of California Fiscal Integrity, there are exactly zero GOP members of the Legislature who have put in for those pay cuts.
Zero. Our Republican legislators usually crusade to cut spending and shrink government, but not when it means taking an ax to their own taxpayer-funded state check
On the bright side, Democrats and Republicans in the California State Legislature have finally found cause for bipartisan unity. With few exceptions, they appear to agree that pay cuts are for the little people, not for the Legislature.
These legislators should remedy this shameful hypocrisy and share the sacrifice every other state worker has been forced to embrace.