SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) -- An appointed citizen panel voted Wednesday to give Gov. Jerry Brown and other top elected officials 4 percent pay raises for the fourth year in a row, after slashing their salaries at the height of the recession.
The Citizen Compensation Commission approved the salary and benefit increases on a 4-0 vote after less than an hour of discussion.
Commission Chairman Thomas Dalzell says even with the increase, lawmakers' salaries are still below their rates at the start of the recession, when the panel voted to cut pay by about 18 percent.
"This will bring it up to about 90 percent of where we were in 2007, simply a restorative measure, incremental," Dalzell said in an interview after the vote. He said while other state employees were furloughed during the recession, none had their pay cut so extremely and all have since been restored.
Brown's pay will rise to about $190,000 from about $183,000 now, while rank-and-file California lawmakers -- who are already the nation's best-compensated -- will now make salaries of a little more than $104,000. They can reject the raises if they choose.
During the recession, the commission cut lawmaker pay 18 percent and eliminated their state-owned vehicles. Lawmakers are also eligible for a $176 daily cost-of-living allowance, but they don't get pensions.
The raises take effect in December and come out of operating budgets for government offices, so the moves won't necessarily mean additional costs for taxpayers.
The commission's vote followed a 3 percent increase last year, 2 percent raise in 2014 and a 5 percent increase in 2013.
Health and dental benefits for statewide elected officials will remain the same.
The commission was created by voters in 1990. Members are appointed by governors, and Brown has appointed all four current members.
The commission sets salaries and benefits for state lawmakers and the eight constitutional officers elected statewide, as well as for members of the Board of Equalization, which deals with a wide range of tax issues.
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