SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers are set to receive a 5.3 percent pay raise Monday, but a dozen say they won't accept it in the wake of a voter-approved tax hike last November and while many residents are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
None of legislators declining the pay bump represent the Bay Area, according to a list provided Friday by the state Controller's Office. The Bay Area News Group on Friday contacted representatives of 22 Assembly members and senators of the Bay Area delegation for comment, but few responded.
The raises were approved by the citizen panel that determines state officials' compensation. The base salary for most legislators will go from $90,526 to $95,291 -- still below the $116,208 that lawmakers received in 2007, before their pay was cut during California's budget crises.
Bryan Singh, a spokesman for Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, said Fong planned to accept the raise because he trusts the panel's judgment.
"The state's independent Citizens Compensation Commission determines the appropriate compensation for the legislators," Singh said in an email. "The commission is made up of thoughtful and dedicated individuals, and I trust that they had good reasons to increase the salary and per diem."
Some Republican lawmakers and a handful of Democrats, however, have a different perspective.
"I didn't think taking a raise ... when we had just raised taxes on all Californians with Prop. 30 really made sense," said Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, one of the legislators who said they were turning down the increase.
Many rank-and-file state workers will receive pay hikes of 4.5 percent phased in through July 2015, but some lawmakers note that many in the private sector are hurting.
"Since California's economy continues to struggle, with many Californians unemployed or underemployed, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to accept a pay raise," state Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, wrote to Controller John Chiang, asking that no raise be included in his paycheck.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, are taking their pay increases.
"I have accepted previous decisions by the independent Citizens Compensation Commission to adjust legislative pay and benefits," Steinberg said in a statement. "I will continue to accept their decisions now."
Lawmakers have until the third week in December to notify the Controller's Office that they plan to decline the pay raise, spokesman Jacob Roper said Friday.
The commission had cut elected state officials' salaries by 23 percent since 2008. But in June, citing the state's rosier financial situation, the panel announced raises for legislators and 11 others, including the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general and controller.
Gov. Jerry Brown's salary will go from $165,288 to $173,987 Monday. That figure is below the 2007 level of $212,179 for the governor's job.
"The governor intends to accept the Citizens Compensation Commission's decision," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.
In addition to Allen and Wyland, state Sen. Mimi Walters, an Irvine Republican, is refusing the pay hike, as are Republican Assembly members Jim Patterson, of Fresno; Eric Linder, of Corona; Rocky J. Chavez, of Oceanside; Tim Donnelly, of Twin Peaks; and Allan R. Mansoor, of Costa Mesa. Democrats include Assemblyman Ken Cooley, of Rancho Cordova, and state Sens. Richard Roth, of Riverside, and Lou Correa, of Santa Ana.
State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, said he is donating his raise to charities in his district.
Donnelly is running for governor on a platform of fiscal restraint, and Mansoor said California still has too many costly problems to be providing financial rewards to lawmakers.
"Schools are still being shortchanged. Our infrastructure is inadequate and underfunded. We have tons of pension debt. We still have water issues that need to be addressed and funded," Mansoor said. "So let's continue to be a little more responsible in how we manage our government before we give ourselves pay raises and a pat on the back. "
Roth said he rejected the raise because he was elected at his current salary. He, Wyland and Mansoor are among those who said they also would not accept a planned 15 percent jump in per-diem payments that most lawmakers receive to cover living expenses in Sacramento.
"I guess we'll see how high the cost of living goes up in Sacramento and whether I can continue my principled stand on per diem in future years," he said.
Legislative officials said the per diem for lawmakers will increase Monday from $141.86, the level the commission cut it to in recent years, to $163. The sum is based on a formula tied to the expense rate set by the federal government.
For lawmakers who averaged about $27,000 in tax-free per diem last year, the change would mean an extra $4,000 annually.
The new per diem remains below the $173 paid before the commission cut it.
Staff writer Jessica Calefati contributed to this report.