The Entitlement Legislator

by CalWatchdog Staff | December 9, 2010 1:16 pm

Katy Grimes: Hearing the news earlier this week that newly elected Los Angeles Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is now loudly complaining about the 2009 paycut to legislators, reminded me of why California is in the horrific financial state – and it is a textbook case of bad timing, and what not to do.

But Cedillo is no newbie to the Legislature – he termed-out from the Senate, and then ran for the Assembly.

I’m not I the mood for empathy. And my disdain is not because of an envy of people who are well compensated – I am a supporter of free-market compensation as high as the market will allow.

And that’s where Cedillo and I obviously part company. He’s a public employee, albeit an elected one. He is not a free-market entrepreneur. Cedillo’s lawsuit demonstrates what an anti-free market guy he really is, and how out-of-touch he must be.

Cedillo filed a claim against the state alleging that the 18% cut in pay and benefits ordered by the California Citizens Compensation Commission was illegal. The pay cut reduced the salaries for legislators from $116,208 to $95,291 effective Dec. 7, 2009, and reduced other compensation, including per diem expenses and car allowances, reported the Los Angeles Times. However the Sunshine Review [1]reported “The California Citizens Compensation Commission[2] decided not to cut benefits, car allowances or the legislative per diem payments of about $30,000 annually that offset living expenses.”

It’s difficult not to wonder why Cedillo told The Bee, “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. It’s the ultimate leverage.”

Perhaps the best thing for Cedillo would be to take a refresher course in economics and read some historic examples of great leadership. He is not just an employee of the state that currently operates under a mind-boggling $6.1 billion budgetary shortfall, he is one of the decision makers that participated in creating this shortfall.

Cedillo’s district is made up of the city and county of Los Angeles, where unemployment is quite high  – in October it was 11.7%, up from 11.6% one year earlier.

And while California’s unemployment rate is rising and hovers at the third highest in the nation, other states’ unemployment rates are dropping. The Times reported “Twenty-six other states saw their unemployment rates decrease from July to August, including Mississippi and Alabama.”

…and Assemblyman Cedillo is loudly complaining about an 18 percent cut in pay. Fortunately, while still Attorney General, Jerry Brown (now Gov.-elect) ruled that Cedillo’s complaint was not valid or justified. Now Cedillo is taking his complaint to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board arguing that the pay cut was illegal.

Great timing. I am making an educated guess that the 2.3 million unemployed Californians would take offense to Cedillo’s complaint.

Most employed people that I know are grateful to be employed, even if they’ve had to endure pay cuts and furlough days. And companies that have had to make cuts in order to remain in business often have an owner or CEO who has taken the biggest pay cut, if receiving any pay at all. Entire management teams often take cuts in pay before the rank-and-file have to.

That’s leadership. A sincere leader takes the first cut often before anyone knows there is even a problem.

So when an elected state leader cries foul because he had to take a pay cut along with the rank-and-file employees of the state, I hope that the voters in his district are paying close attention.

Cedillo’s entitlement mentality is what got California into the financial mess we are now breaking under. You can’t have something for nothing, and everything comes at a price. California is the entitlement state, and facing insolvency because of it.

I’ll send Cedillo one of Milton Friedman’s books[3] for Christmas, to remind him, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” the most basic rule of economics. “I’m entitled to my salary,” is not.

DEC. 9, 2010

  1. Sunshine Review :
  2. California Citizens Compensation Commission:
  3. books:

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