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Legislative Analyst: Gov. Gavin Newsom's Proposed Raises For California Prison Guards Not Justified

AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File

In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo a condemned inmate is led out of his east block cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison, in San Quentin, Calif.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File

California lawmakers could vote as soon as Monday on a labor deal between Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and the state’s prison guards’ union. But a scathing report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says the deal’s 3% raise isn’t justified.

“No Evident Justification for Proposed Salary Increase,” reads a headline in the LAO’s unusually harsh report.

The LAO “just didn’t think they had a lot of merit,” said the report’s author, Nick Schroeder, of the administration’s arguments for the raise.

Schroeder noted that in 2013, the last time the state’s labor negotiators studied the compensation market for prison guards and parole officers, California Correctional Peace Officers Association members were paid 40% above market.

“The fact that they maintained pace with inflation since then really seems like it’s reasonable to assume that they’re still above market in their compensation,” Schroeder said.

And that’s a big reason why California’s prison costs have continued to go up, even though the state’s inmate population has been dropping since 2011.

“Really, one of the primary drivers in the state’s prison costs are the employee compensation costs,” Schroeder said.

The Newsom administration did not directly respond to the LAO report but said it had “worked hard to reach an agreement” with CCPOA members.

“We look forward to the agreement being ratified by members of the union as well as the Legislature,” said Andrew LaMar with the California Department of Human Resources.

The CCPOA spent nearly $3 million on independent expenditures backing Newsom’s campaign for governor last fall.

On the other hand, the 3% pay raise in the Newsom administration’s one-year deal is smaller than the 5% raise former Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration negotiated with the union last year.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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