California state Sen. Robert Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) holds his head in his hands during a budget negotiating session of the state Senate on Feb. 17, 2009 in Sacramento.
For the time being, $95,291 dollars represents minimum wage for members of the California Assembly and the State Senate.
The independent commission that sets salary levels for the legislature and constitutional offices decided that their current wages are low enough for the time being. In fact, not a single one of the commission's six members opposed the motion to maintain salary levels. An earlier motion to cut pay by five percent didn't get a second. The decision came as leaders in several Califorina cities demand wage concessions from their employees as the price for saving jobs.
There are several factors behind the commission's vote. For starters, legislators already make 18 percent less than they did last year when their salaries reached slightly more than $116,000. Commission members say they want to see the details of next year's state budget before they trim salaries again. Given the status of the budget, that would seem to give the commission plenty of time.
Beyond that, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell warned that lowering the pay of elected officials any further might affect the quality of candidates willing to run for the state legislature.
There is a path to higher wages for California legislators. Leadership positions in both the Assembly and the Senate pay $109,584. And constitional office holders make up to $173,987. Those salaries will remain unchanged as well.