California's top officials to take 18% pay cut in December

Pay for California's top elected officials will be slashed by 18 percent next month, one year earlier than expected, to abide by an opinion issued Thursday from Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Just in time for the holiday season, lawmakers will have their salaries cut by $20,917 annually while California's 12 top state officials will see reductions of at least $28,644 apiece.

"There are legal scholars that might quibble, but I think the vast majority of Californians would give Jerry Brown a standing ovation," said John J. Pitney Jr., professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, through a spokesman, applauded the cuts.

"The governor doesn't take a salary, and everyone in his administration has taken a 14 percent pay cut," said press secretary Aaron McLear. "He believes the Legislature, just like everyone else in state government, ought to be cutting back."

Brown concluded that a pay cut approved in May by the state's independent salary-setting commission is not barred by the state constitution from taking effect in midterm. The reductions are expected to save the state about $2.9 million a year.

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