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Phil Matier: California Legislators Are Highest Paid In Nation

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California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PhilMatier01-370 Phil Matier
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A new report by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that California legislators make over $90,000 a year, which is $6,000 more than Pennsylvania lawmakers who rate as the second highest paid in the nation.

The median average is close to $20,000 with legislators in New Mexico ranking as being paid the least and receiving no base pay, but collecting $159 per day in per-diem compensation.

California’s Compensation Commission had been considering giving state lawmakers a raise later this year, but how do they justify these high pay rates?

They look at a combination of things including the workload of the lawmakers compared to other states. They even take what county office holders are paid into consideration.

Your average county supervisor makes a pretty decent amount— more in some cases than what the state lawmakers make, which is why some state legislators go back to the county level just to get a pay raise.

Phil Matier: California Legislators Are Highest Paid In Nation

KCBS Radio

In 2007 the base pay for state lawmakers in California was actually a lot more. Back then it was $116,000 a year and they’d get the per diem amount too. So they have scaled back a bit. They used to get free cars too.

They’ve fiddled around with the system with having full-time and part-time legislators. For example you’d have a state lawmaker going to Sacramento for three months or two months a year, but they keep their normal day job. That’s actually how it originally was in America, but we’ve evolved into where everyone is a full-time lawmaker now on the county, state and federal level.

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