Document:California Press Release 16 December 1998 Davis Salary Reversal

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Office of the Executive Director
11956 Riverside Dr., #206
Valley Village, CA 91607-3772
For immediate release: December 16, 1998
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 506-0200
Fax: (818) 506-0212

Davis salary reversal highlights need for 'public pay equity,' Libertarians say

LOS ANGELES -- Governor-elect Gray Davis's recent reversal on his campaign promise not to accept a pay raise is symptomatic of a much worse problem: the growing divide between private sector and government salaries, the Libertarian Party of California announced today.

"Career politicians like Davis already have a very poor record of keeping campaign promises," said Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle. "Voters should be more concerned over how much more state workers are getting paid compared to private workers. Taxpayers should demand public pay equity."

The California Citizens Compensation Commission, the appointed panel that decides pay raises for legislators and statewide officers, voted in March to increase annual salaries for those positions by 26%. On December 1st, when the raises kicked in, the Governor's salary jumped from $131,040 to $165,000.

When the raises were first announced, Davis pledged not to accept a raise if elected governor. But on December 7th, the first day of the new legislative session, Davis did an about-face and announced he would be accepting a salary of $156,750 -- a mere 5% below the authorized full salary, but a 19.6% raise nevertheless.

Davis defended his actions by arguing that he isn't accepting the full raise he is entitled to by law and is therefore keeping his campaign promise. Davis also angered rank-and-file state workers, most of whom have not received a pay raise since 1995.

"The problem extends far beyond Davis," noted Hinkle. "He is just one out of 234,000 state government employees."

Even at current levels, state government wages and salaries still exceed private wages and salaries, according to a report issued in August by the Public Interest Institute at Iowa Wesleyan College. The report also shows:

  • Average annual state government wages in California are $39,663, while average private sector wages are $31,183 -- a 27% difference and the 7th highest pay advantage over private sector workers in the country
  • State government wages in California are also 26% higher than the national average of $31,418 and are the third highest in the country, behind New Jersey and Massachusetts
  • Private sector wages exceed state government wages in only 6 states
  • Even local governments are problematic: average annual local government wages in California are $32,782, 5% higher than the private sector average

So what can be done to bring government salaries closer to private salaries?

"Some form of 'public pay equity' legislation is needed to establish an annual ceiling limiting public salaries to the same rate of change as the private sector," Hinkle suggested. "If private salaries increase, average public salaries can increase by no more than that amount. But if private salaries decrease, public salaries must decrease by at least the same percentage.

"Of course, Davis can always decide to eliminate thousands of unnecessary government jobs. That will more than pay for his raise."