Correa introduces pay disclosure act

AUGUST 12, 2010


State Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, released language today from his Taxpayer Right to Know Act — aimed at improving public access to information about the salaries and perks enjoyed by the state’s government employees. The bill comes in the aftermath of the city of Bell scandal, where reports show a city manager in that small impoverished city who received a total compensation package of around $1.5 million, and where other city employees and council members were enriching themselves at public expense.

Various state and county investigations into Bell are ongoing, but this legislation is based on a simple concept, as Correa put it: “If taxpayer funds are involved, the public has the right to know.” The legislation applies to employees of a county, city, school district, special district and joint powers agency and, in fact, to anyone who “is required to file a statement of economic interests.”

Each employee would be required to file a compensation disclosure form. If the agency maintains a Web site, that info would be posted on the site. Information provided includes salaries and stipends, reimbursements for expenses, the employers’ costs of providing benefits and any perks received. Open records are one of the most important means for holding elected officials accountable and too often salary and perk information is concealed and obscured from the public. Too often, it’s difficult for average citizens to navigate municipal bureaucracies in order to access this important data.

Correa explains that the legislation provides a legal process to make government agencies provide the requested data.

Per the bill’s language: “The Legislature finds and declares that the fiscal integrity and stability of local governmental agencies in this state, including charter cities, has a direct impact on the long-term well-being of all the residents in this state. The likelihood of businesses locating to or staying in the state is affected by the perception of a functioning, transparent and practical governmental structure in the local governmental bodies in California. Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that to ensure the statewide integrity of local government, the disclosure and compensation paid to officers and designated employees is an issue of statewide concern and not a municipal affair … .”

Well said. The bill has bipartisan support.

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