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California's Senate Democratic Leader Responds to Park Scandal and Pay Raises

Aug 7, 2012

California’s Senate President Pro Tem is responding to criticisms of legislative pay raises and the hidden assets found at the parks department. The issues are giving ammunition to opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.

California Democratic legislative leaders are dealing with the political fallout from a decision to award merit raises of up to five percent to hundreds of staff employees. Those raises came at the same time other state workers lost pay because of furlough days. Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he made the decision knowing that unlike other state workers, Senate employees hadn’t received step increases for four years.

“I will admit I’ve had a few sleepless nights over the break about it, cause you know I pride myself on thinking through things and you know it’s a close call.”

But he said the discovery of 54-million dollars hidden in two separate state parks accounts wasn’t a close call at all.

“There’s no good excuse for how we asked people to pony up private dollars to keep parks open and then all of a sudden you find this money, it was a mistake.”

Steinberg says the legislature will work to figure out what systems should be in place to prevent a recurrence of the mistake.