Allison Olson, CFRW Advocate
Friday, November 20, 2009
California Federation of Republican Women
Kathleen Brugger, President
Pay Cuts for Lawmakers
On Thursday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown gave his necessary “ok” to cut state lawmakers’ and elected officials’ pay by 18 percent. An independent salary-setting commission decided in May that pay cuts for our state’s legislators and top officials will take effect in December 2010. But Brown concluded that mid-term pay cuts do not violate our state’s constitution ,and they therefore will go into effect next month. The Attorney General has not yet addressed a separate 18 percent cut in legislative benefits, such as their car allowance or the $173 per diem they receive. That reduction, which will also go into effect next month, was decided by the California Citizens Compensation Commission. The Commission is tasked with annually analyzing salaries and has the executive authority to set salaries and benefits for our state’s legislature and other elected officials.
No More Gerrymandering!
The state auditor is encouraging Californians to apply to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission. A new website was launched to increase interest in applying for the commission. Applications will be accepted starting on December 15th at www.WeDrawTheLines.ca.gov. Proposition 11, which passed in 2008, creates the 14 member commission with the task of redrawing districts for the state’s Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization after the 2010 census is complete. But not everyone can apply to be a member; there are certain conflicts of interest that could disqualify an applicant. Registered lobbyists, political party committee members, campaign workers, elected or appointed officials who have served at any time, or those who have contributed more than $2,000 to a campaign are not qualified to apply. If you do not fall into any of these categories, I would urge you to apply online!
It’s that time again… budget time. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) of the Capitol has released its “Fiscal Outlook” for the 2010-11 budget, and the number it came up with: $20.7 billion. As of today, it is going to take $20.7 billion dollars to balance the budget of the next 19 months. Because California already cut much from K-12 schools and colleges, as well as Medi-Cal, the state is spending the minimum amount required by the federal government for those programs, which make up more than half of our general fund budget. So what’s left to cut? Speculators believe legislators will look to prisons, parks, and social services for greater cuts. But be prepared for a larger gap, if the courts throw out a $1.7 billion redevelopment fund shift or find furloughs illegal. Looking back on it, the IOUs issued by the government this year did more harm than good due to interest repayments; but unfortunately, our legislators will search for similar solutions to fix our problems. Surprisingly, the LAO warned against increasing taxes as a solution and instead suggested looking for other sources of revenue and lobbying for federal relief. Your Legislative Advocate will be watching for new budget developments as this year comes to a close.
Follow Me On Twitter!
At our CFRW Biennial Convention, we announced that we’ve hopped on the Twitter bandwagon! With this new media technology, I am able to disseminate legislative updates and CFRW actions faster and more efficiently. Get online and receive my Twitter updates at www.twitter.com/CFRWadvocate. See you there!
Although we are unable to give our members access to our web-based bill tracking service, there is a way you can find and monitor California legislation. You can access that information on the internet by going to the Legislature Home Page and completing the information on the right side by either indicating the bill number, the author, or key words. You can then subscribe to an email update and you will be notified when there is action on legislation of interest to you.
Disclaimer: The Capitol Update is an activity of the CFRW Advocate’s Office. The update is for information only. CFRW official positions on legislation are stated immediately preceding the stated legislation or immediately following the stated legislation in this report.