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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  1. Amelia Barg
    Amelia Barg 12 August, 2010, 15:00

    I am a retiree from the County Office of Education where I worked for 10 years as a permanent employee and have enjoyed doing temporary work for the last 14 years.

    In April of this year I received a letter from the Benefit Services Division regarding COLA. I was prepared not to receive any cost of living but I was surprised to find that my pension had been cut. My pension after 10 years is less than Social Security (wherein no yearly raise was given this year as well) and I am happy to receive it but to have it cut seemed unusual. I emailed and received a call from a young man and he informed me that in bad times, I could be cut down to the original amount I received at the time of my retirement. CalPERS has been in the newspapers lately regarding the Bell situation.

    I am wondering if it would be possible to find out how many retirees like me had their pensions cut. Several of my friends received pension cuts, but others did not. Any assistance would be most appreciated.

    Reply this comment
  2. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 13 August, 2010, 09:52

    Give us something to go on Amelia. I am guessing that CalPERS does not provide your pension. I suspect such, because any change in your pension status through CalPERS would be accompanied by a letter of explanation. Am I right or wrong?

    Reply this comment
  3. Charles Sainte Claire
    Charles Sainte Claire 13 August, 2010, 10:57

    I worked for the State for forty years and my pay and retirement are public knowledge. I want the same for welfare recipients who do not work.

    Reply this comment
  4. Charles Sainte Claire
    Charles Sainte Claire 13 August, 2010, 10:58

    I worked for the State for forty years and my pay and retirement are public knowledge. I want the same for welfare recipients who do not work. Public money is public money no matter who receives it.

    Reply this comment
  5. Edward H. Straub
    Edward H. Straub 20 August, 2010, 07:58

    I agree 100% with Charles Sainte Claire that that welfare, section 8 and food stamp people are also on the public take and the public should have this information.

    Reply this comment

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