NO, NOT NOW, NOT EVER! This has become the battle cry for the Republican Party in opposition to the six ballot initiatives for the special election this May, Props 1A-1F. The kool-aid they are drinking from many of the GOP Legislators is that they need to turn all these initiatives down together. Yet there is one they especially don’t want passed, one which some Republicans have justifiably expressed interest in voting Yes on, Proposition 1F. If passed, Prop. 1F would ban state legislators from receiving a raise whenever there is a deficit and would withhold pay from them if the budget is not ready on time. Finally some teeth to the “constitutional” deadline to pass a budget. I am sure this explains why most of the GOP legislators don’t want this passed. As to date, only ONE, Abel Maldonado, has called for reducing the amount of perks legislators currently get.
Meanwhile, the rest of the GOP legislative delegation talk of firing more teachers, firing more state employees, cutting our education system, cutting social services, cutting the amount of students who can attend CSU’s or UC’s, raising fees on Community Colleges. They vilify teachers and state employees as being lazy, greedy and selfish. Lets see the average teacher makes around $60,000 a year, which they must use to get a place to live, make a car payment, use for gas to run the car and so on. They only get $60,000 a year to live off of, no more no less. There are part time college instructors, struggling to raise a family on roughly $50,000 a year while still seeking their PH.D. They have $50,000 a year to spend on their family, on their standard of living, no more, no less. These are the people the Republican Assemblymembers and State Senators would have you believe are bad, selfish people who want to raise your taxes and are causing our state’s financial crisis.
Now lets examine what the average State Legislator makes. They make a salary of $116,208 a year unless you are the Minority Leader, then you make $133,639 a year. But that is just their salary alone, the base pay. On top of that, they get $162 a DAY, each day they are in Sacramento “doing work.” Some of this hard work, according to some Sacramento horror stories involved seeing legislators playing solitaire on their computer or simpsonizing themself and posting it on Red County. I am sure all of us would love to make $162 a day playing Solitaire or Simpsonizing pictures of themselves. But that is not all, oh no that is not all.
On top of a six figure salary and $162 a day per diem in which the average legislator makes $30,000 extra a year from, totaling $146,208 so far they get much more. They have an option to get TWO taxpayer funded cars one for Sacramento and one for their district, in which nearly every Republicans has taken, and the total average is $20,000 for a free car. On top of that, they are given a credit card to get gas which is charged to THE TAXPAYER. So on top of a free car, they also get FREE GAS. Considering the average car payment is $400 and gas is $50 a fill up, they are getting an allowance of $9,000 a year for a free car and free gas bringing up the total to $155,208 a year. Then there is the free air travel to and from their district, their full retirement benefits, even though they are only allowed to work 14 years maximum in the state legislature.
The GOP Legislators love to bash teachers and state employees for being able to retire with full benefits at 55 years old after working for 30 years even though they have to retire with full benefits for working for the state less than half that amount of time. Now what job can you do that? I understand why they state employees are so outraged. Damn right I would be outraged to when I am forced to give up two days a month WITHOUT PAY while being vilified by Republican legislators who are making a 1)Six Figure Salary 2)An extra $162 a day extra per diem to cover expenses(I thought that was what a salary was for, to cover expenses) 3) an $20,000 on average car, sometimes 2 4) Free gas for those two cars 5) Full retirement benefits for working a maximum of only 14 years, 6) FREE HEALTH CARE for themselves and their families, 7) Free Airplane tickets to travel around the state and 8)FREE TICKETS sporting events and a myriad of other gifts offered by lobbyists. Not only that, they continue to get all these perks and benefits when a BUDGET IS LATE! If a GOP legislator offered to give most of the perks here and operate on the salary alone, they would have some room to talk.
To date, only one has talked of taking some of these perks away, Abel Maldonado, and he has been vilified by the Republican party for it. The Republican legislators have no room to talk about the “selfishness” of Teachers, College Instructors and Public Employees. They are simply projecting their own selfishness onto these hard working people trying to make ends meet. I agree we all need to give a little during these hard times, but this should start at the top, with our politicians. I believe the entire State Legislature needs to give up many of these perks, and mavericks like Lou Correa, who already refuses to take a paycheck whenever a budget is late, should be looked to as an example. During times like these, the legislators should offer to take only the base salary and their health care. If many of us are forced to live off of $60,000 a year for ALL COSTS, I am sure the legislators, particularly the GOP(half of them were already Millionaires to begin with), can find a way to live within $116,000 a year.
So can we count on the GOP finding a way to “live within their means” of $116,000 a year, NO, NOT NOW, NOT EVER! Can we count on the GOP Legislators giving up their perks and living a little like the rest of us and stop vilifying our teachers, college instructors and state employees, NO, NOT NOW, NOT EVER!