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Panel likely to maintain pay for elected officials
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SACRAMENTO (AP) — The panel that sets salaries for the governor, lawmakers and state elected officials indicated Thursday that it was not inclined to raise pay even if California runs a budget surplus this year.

The California Citizens Compensation Commission took no formal action during its first meeting of the year. It will reconvene June 13 to decide whether it will impose a pay cut, restore pay or maintain the status quo.

The commission's chairman, Thomas Dalzell, said he would be surprised if there are enough votes on the seven-member panel for an increase.

"Reading these commissioners, I think it would be unseemly to increase the first year out on a surplus," he said.

State finance department figures show tax revenue is running nearly 9 percent above forecast as of February, or about $4.7 billion more than anticipated. Still, Dalzell said the economy remains volatile and that pay increases for elected officials are not a priority for taxpayers.

The commission voted to cut salaries in 2009, 2011 and last year, when it reduced elected officials' pay by 5 percent, effective last December. The last reduction dropped the governor's pay from a high of $212,179 in 2008 to $165,288.

The base salary for state lawmakers has dropped from $116,208 five years ago to $90,526. Most of them supplement that by taking per diem payments, which typically add about $30,000 a year to their salaries.

In 2011, the commission also voted to eliminate state-owned vehicles for lawmakers' unlimited use. Until then, California was the only state in the nation providing vehicles to its rank-and-file lawmakers.

The panel had been dominated by appointees of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who declined to take a state paycheck, but a majority will be appointed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown once the last vacancy is filled.