Pay will be going up starting today for most California state employees. It’s the first salary increase they’ve seen since before the Great Recession.
About 215,000 state employees will be seeing a few dollars more in their next paycheck. Some workers say getting the more than four percent raise in one lump sum would be better. But state analyst Paula Montez says she’s actually happy about it.
Montez says she’s learned not to be too optimistic over the state’s finances, because furloughs and higher pension contributions have been the norm for the past few years. The raises were also tied to the state’s financial outlook, which Montez says look fairly good “for now.”
“But you never know what could happen in the future,” says Montez. “Because things change so much and we never know how the economy is going to be.”
But Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says the state’s surplus could be better spent paying down pension obligations and other debts.
“The debt load that California is currently carrying in terms of the PERS obligations and other forms of indebtedness is very substantial,” says Coupal.
A recent Legislative Analyst’s Office report says the raise will bring state employee pay back to the level it was six or seven years ago, when the higher cost of living is factored in.