Cost of keeping CA Senators riding in style? $100 mil

CA State Senate chamber
by Flickr user flap

After a legislative committee votes down a 5% salary reduction for state workers, Darrell Steinberg asks his colleagues in the Senate to take a 5% pay cut. A great factoid in that story is that the operating budget of the CA Senate is $100 million. That’s $2.5 million per member. For reference, that is exactly the same size as the Sacramento Fire Department’s budget. But that includes, you know, the pool … er I mean fighting fires and stuff. For a Senate, $100 million just gets you 40 people to show up — you want extras? That costs more.

Something else to keep in mind: the legislators gave up the right to cut their own salary by fiat when the voters approved Prop 112 in 1990. But who told us to do that? Who put Prop 112 on the ballot? Hold on to your seats: it was the California Legislature!

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

5 thoughts on “Cost of keeping CA Senators riding in style? $100 mil”

  1. well cooldmz, the people did vote for Prop 112. besides it created a commission that just cut legislator’s pay. Prop 112 also banned legislator’s honoraria, which is a form of bribery and income for speaking fees, limited gifts from lobbyists, and created a one year ban on lobbying after leaving office.

    so what was the point you were making exactly…because of Prop 112 doesn’t seem to be as bad as you imply. also, $2.5 million a member may not be that bad. so what exactly are the extras that cost more you speak of? per diem? does this $2.5 million include staff salaries? does this include moneys they use for housing in Sacto?


  2. Unfortunately Prop 112 also restricted the legislature from being able to *cut* its own salary. Why would a functioning legislature with the interests of the people in mind need somebody else to cut their salary? Why wouldn’t we primarily want to protect the people from a legislature with the power to raise its own salary? Again, sort of like my problem with Prop 13, I don’t disagree with the other stuff you’re saying…

    I assume the general operating budget pays for all of those things, staff and per diem etc. Here is the budget:

    Average funding per position for all departments is about $375k. For the Senate it is $2 million.

    Interestingly, K-12 education funding per position is astronomical, $14 million per, so that money must include all funding for K-12 education. But as I said above, that includes the actual educating of the students. What exactly are we getting from the senate for $100 million over and above the funding of all the other state programs?


  3. The Senate is not simply 40 Senators and their staff, but the employees who work for the Senate itself.
    How many employees total are included in this $100 million? Does this figure include the 82 Committees that they manage?


  4. The electronic version of the budget only calls out that it is 40 budgeted “positions.” It’s possible there is a chart somewhere that calls out the FTEs but it seems more likely that those positions are not budgeted. This is just discretionary cash. But I have no idea. Seems like a horrid amount of money.


  5. It does include the staff. They are not required by law to include the number of staff they have (as most other state entities are) so only the elected members show up in the budget.


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