Millions in cuts made to legislative pay and benefits last year by an independent salary-setting commission are being challenged by a veteran Los Angeles lawmaker.
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, arguing the cuts were illegal, is seeking retroactive compensation for all 120 legislators.
Cedillo claims the reductions by a seven-member panel of gubernatorial appointees were timed and targeted to pressure the Legislature into making concessions in tense budget talks.
"We can't put legislators in the volatile position of worrying that if they make a decision it could put their families in a difficult situation," he said. "It's the ultimate leverage."
The claim challenges separate 18 percent cuts made last year to lawmakers' fringe benefits and to their salaries, dropping the latter from $116,208 to $95,291 per year.
Cedillo, a Democrat who joined the Assembly this week after eight years in the Senate, filed his claim with the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. If the claim is not resolved, he said, he would consider filing suit.
Disclosure of the claim comes just one month after the gubernatorial election.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said voters already are so "cynical that I don't think anything this Legislature could do would surprise them."
"I think most voters will find it very offensive," Coupal said of Cedillo's claim.
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