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Average Capitol pay level at $61,000 a year

Some 2,149 legislative employees work in the state Capitol and earn an annual average salary of $61,555, according to figures provided the Rules Commitees in the Senate and Assembly. The figures reflect pay as of the third quarter of this year.

About 139 people on the Legislative staff earn more than $10,000 per month.

On the Assembly side, 62 people earn more than $10,000 per month, and the highest-paid person, Daniel Eaton, the chief of staff to former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, makes in excess of $17,000 per month, or more than $204,000 per year. In the Senate, 77 people take home paychecks greater than $10,000 per month. As in the Assembly, the highest-paid Seante employee, Gregory Schmidt, earns more than $17,000 monthly, or $204,132 annually.

Employees in the government and legislative work force often say they would earn more in the private sector, but the numbers don’t reflect that contention, in terms of average salaries. Based on the most recent federal census, California’s highest-pay county is Marin, with a per capita income of $44,962. The figure includes both private and public salaries in Marin County, and is about two-thirds of the average Capitol paycheck.

The second-highest income county, San Mateo, has a per capita income of $ $36,045, over half – about 58 percent – of the average legislative.

The lowest-income county, Imperial, has annual per capita income of $13,239, just over a fifth of the average legislative  salary. The median household income in Imperial County, $31,870 a year, is about half the amount of the average Capitol paycheck.

At the other end of the financial scale, the per capita income in 37 individual communities is more –sometimes, much more — than the average legislative pay check. In Belvedere, Atherton, Rolling Hills and Rancho Santa Fe, for example, the per capita income tops $111,000; the highest is Belvedere in Marin County, with an annual per capita income of $113,595, which approaches twice the size of a Capitol pay check.

The salary data includes a number of employees who are listed as earning $0.0, generally because they are off the state payroll as they work on political campaigns. Some checks also are unusually low because they reflect part-time employment, rather than a full-time staffer.

In some cases, the staff members earn more than their bosses. Rank-and-file Assembly and Senate members earn $116,208 a year, or $9,684 monthly. Seventy-two Assembly staffers earn more than their bosses; in the Senate, that number is 86.

Legislators in leadership positions earn more than their rank-and-file colleagues.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and the leader of the Senate – soon to be Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento – earn $133,639, the highest of the members of the Legislature.


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