By Jim Sanders
jsanders@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, May. 22, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

One week after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed slicing state workers’ pay by 5 percent, the Democratic governor and legislators find themselves targeted for a “share the pain” salary cut.

Members of California’s Citizens Compensation Commission said Monday that a pay-cut proposal for statewide officeholders will be on the table when the panel meets May 31.

Commissioner John Stites II said he supports a 5 percent cut for elected officeholders, from the governor to lawmakers.

“I definitely think they should take the same hit – at least,” Stites said. “Whatever happens to the people who work for you, whatever conditions they live under, it’s incumbent upon you to live under those same conditions.”

Brown projects a $15.7 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and has proposed to bridge the gap with tax increases and program cuts, including a shift to a 38-hour, four-day workweek for state workers.

When he unveiled his revised proposal last week, Brown said his administration “would do more than what we ask state employees to do,” suggesting he and others would voluntarily take pay cuts.

Stites and other commissioners said they have no idea whether a pay cut would pass the seven-member panel of gubernatorial appointees.

Commission Chairman Tom Dalzell said he supports the notion of shared sacrifice, but that it would be premature to cut elected officials’ pay this year when the fate of Brown’s 5 percent wage cut for state workers has not been decided.

“It’s putting the cart before the horse,” Dalzell said.

The pay commission, created by voter passage of Proposition 112 in 1990, is responsible for determining compensation for all statewide elected officials. Salaries for California’s elected officials range from $173,987 for Brown to $95,291 for legislators.

The panel chopped officeholders’ pay and state contributions to their medical, dental and other benefits by 18 percent in 2009.

Legislators have taken additional hits to their compensation the past three years, with elimination of a Capitol car-lease program and a cut in lawmakers’ living expenses from $173 to $142 per day.

Commissioner Charles Murray stopped short Monday of committing himself to a new pay cut for officeholders. But they, too, should feel pain from this year’s belt-tightening, he said.

“Even though the legislators don’t consider themselves state workers, we do,” Murray said.

Commissioner Scott Somers was noncommittal about whether he would vote yes at the panel’s meeting next week at Sacramento City Hall. Somers said he supports the concept of shared pain but does not think elected officials should automatically be slapped with an equal cut any time state worker pay is reduced.

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