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December 01, 2006



After saying he wouldn't, Spitzer took the legislative pay raise!

Baca slams rival as pay-raise 'hypocrite'
POLITICS: The Democrat, who lost, was faulted for taking it. Now his foe has accepted the money.
12:03 AM PST on Friday, December 1, 2006
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - During this year's Democratic primary for the state Senate district that covers most of western San Bernardino County, then-Assemblyman Joe Baca Jr. was criticized in attack mailers for taking a $990-a-month raise, which his opponent had turned down.

But weeks after beating Baca, D-Rialto, then-Assemblywoman Gloria Negrete McLeod accepted the salary increase herself, state records show.

Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, who faced no opposition in last month's election, will be sworn in to the state Senate on Monday.

Baca, whose last day in office was Thursday, said Negrete McLeod is a hypocrite.

"They used (the raise) and distorted it and made it negative. You have to look at the integrity of that person," he said.

Baca accused Negrete McLeod's campaign of paying for some of the anti-raise mailers. But Negrete McLeod said all of the pieces came from independent expenditure committees she had no control over.

"I don't think a lot of what the IEs do are fair," she said.

Monday, Negrete McLeod and other lawmakers are scheduled to receive a 2 percent raise recommended by an independent commission that will bring their base salaries to $113,097.

Last December, lawmakers received a 12 percent raise. It boosted their base salaries from $99,000 to $110,880.

Negrete McLeod declined the increase, explaining in a letter to the state controller's office a year ago that, "Given the current budgetary challenges and funding shortfall for vital programs such as education, I cannot, in good conscience, accept the 12-percent increase."

In the weeks before the June 6 primary, pro-Negrete McLeod campaign mailers criticized Baca for taking the raise, alleging that he "cares more about his paycheck than funding our schools." Taking the pay hike was called "disgraceful."

Another pro-Negrete McLeod mailer said she turned down the raise "to put our families first."

She notified the state that she would accept the raise effective July 1.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the switch by Negrete McLeod and other lawmakers.

Last month, the state's nonpartisan fiscal analyst estimated that the state faces a $5.5 billion shortfall between revenue and expenditures in 2006-07.

Negrete McLeod said the state's fiscal fortunes looked brighter when she took the raise last summer. She may reverse part of the salary increase after she takes office, she said.

Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, who represents western Riverside County, also declined last December's raise. He accepted it June 26, state records show.

Spitzer said he publicly deferred the raise until after the June 6 primary.

"I wanted to be in front of the voters and let them pass judgment in light of the fact that the pay raise was out there," he said.

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