Experts Expound

Experts Expound

The compensation commission, which zapped lawmakers’ state-paid cars, is considering eliminating per diem. Is this prudent fiscal policy or just more Legislature bashing?

Geez, honestly, I am ALMOST starting to feel sorry for them – and also for lobbyists – who will be asked for more contributions from clients to legislators’ campaign accounts to help the poor souls offset lost per diem and increased car costs. These are all, of course, politically-required expenditures.

It will either result in even more unqualified members or it will so anger them that others in the government will get their budgets lowered, too. We solve the budget crisis in only one way – spending less.

The commission reflects the view of the populace.  There is no regard for the work of the Legislature.  Their ratings are the lowest in polling history and have been for several years.  The mood is punish the bastards.  The commission is doing everything they can to send that message.  First they cut salaries across the board, then the cars and now the per diem.  Next it will be no remodeling of offices.  Being a legislator has no prestige any more.  Perhaps we will get more serious people running for office, not perks.

Bashing and, worse, punitive. The money saved isn’t even pixey dust, and lawmakers do need to offset the expense of living in Sacramento during session. The system should encourage people who get involved in community affairs, not punish them once they get elected to office.

It’s budget dust in larger context of state fiscal policy, but it’s politically expedient, so much so that incumbent legislators would have been wise to voluntarily act on cars and per diem before the commission acted for them.

Total Legislature Bashing. Not cool.

It’s both. On the one hand, some of the perks legislators in California get are out of line with most of the country. On the other, when you chip away at them too much, you impede the ability of lower-income people to hold office – and keep in mind that far more Democrats than Republicans come here with little personal wealth. They are well-paid, but being a legislator is an expensive, time-consuming, stressful job. Getting rid of some perks is valid, but not because it will do anything to help the state’s fiscal situation.

There are legitimate costs associated with being a legislator, and they should not have to pay those expenses out of their own pocket. I think the new car allowance is too stingy and punitive given the size of some legislative districts. But the tax-free per diem is an abuse and an irritant, and no one will shed a tear if it is eliminated – or strictly limited to days when there are actual floor sessions.

This is actually getting to the point where you may see people leave the Legislature.

Andrew Acosta, A.G. Block, Mark Bogetich, Barry Brokaw, J Dale Debber, Peter DeMarco, Mike Donovan, Jim Evans, Kathy Fairbanks, Jeff Fuller, Rex Frazier, Ken Gibson, Evan Goldberg, Deborah Gonzalez, Sandy Harrison, Bob Hertzberg, Jason Kinney, Greg Lucas, Mike Madrid, Nicole Mahrt, Steve Maviglio,  Adam Mendelsohn, Barbara O’Connor, Bill Packer, Kassy Perry, Jack Pitney, Adam Probolsky, Tony Quinn, Matt Rexroad, Matt Ross, Roger Salazar, Dan Schnur, Will Shuck, Ralph Simoni, Sam Sorich, Ray Sotero, Garry South, Kevin Spillane, Robin Swanson, Angie Wei, Rich Zeiger

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: