Board Slashes Benefits for Elected Officials

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Health, dental and vision insurance.  Car allowances.  And the more than $170 a day every elected official receives in per diem payments – for things like food and lodging.  The California Citizens Compensation Commission unanimously voted to cut all those benefits by 18 percent.  That’s on top of the 18 percent salary cut the board approved in May.
Murray: “We’re bankrupt.  I mean, very plain and simple.”
Commission chair Charles Murray says the state’s budget crisis makes the cuts necessary – and that they’d save around $2.5 million a year.
Murray: “We feel we have studies that say we control the fringe benefits, and certainly per diem, cars and the insurance are fringe benefits.”
Actually, there’s a question over whether the commission has the legal authority to cut some of the benefits, like the per diem payments.  Commissioner John Stites says if an elected official thinks the cuts aren’t legal, well …
Stites: “The ball’s in their court.  You can accept it or you can challenge it.”
After all, the state’s in a budget crisis – and a recent poll found the legislature’s popularity rating is 14 percent.
Stites: “Which is probably why we haven’t heard a lot from them.”
The benefit cuts take effect in December; the salary cuts won’t kick in til the end of next year.