Perhaps the greatest symbol of what’s wrong about California is what author Joel Kotkin calls the entitled bureaucracy.
That’s why it really sticks in our craw that assembly leaders of both parties felt absolutely no remorse about handing out $551,000 in pay increases to the assembly staff at a time when they are literally begging the public to sacrifice on their behalf. State senate staffers have gotten no raise.
Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat, and Republican Michael Villines gave 5.5 percent pay hikes on average to 130 people — that amount may not look like much but it comes at a time when millions of Californians are getting no paycheck at all.
What’s more, these increases to salary will create millions of dollars in salary, benefits and pension obligations for you and me.
Finally, there is the utter lack of concern for the public relations aspect of these raises — which reminds us of those hapless auto executives flying to Washington in their private jets.
Don’t get us wrong, we know that bureaucrats work hard and that may of these raises were probably deserved. Bass tried to explain away the raises by linking them to budget cuts in assembly overhead and the reduction of staff by some 20 full-time employees.
But the raises, some of which went to staff making more than $150,000 per year, still strike us as wrong minded and tone deaf. California, after all, is in a budget hole that totals $41 billion and most of the responsibility for that mess lies in the hands of the legislature.
Where is the sense of shared sacrifice — the sense that bureaucrats have to give up perks in tough times because they have what amounts to life tenure in their posts?
This entitlement bureaucracy is at the root of what’s wrong with California. We are now in a place where every single signal that gets set on the budget has big implications for the future.
We have an election on May 19 that will determine the future course of the state and its mammoth budget. In our view, pay raises such as these should be suspended until California’s budget process is put on a safe and sound course.