California Proposition 61, Salaries of State and Local Elected Officials (1986)

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California Proposition 61 was on the November 4, 1986 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.
  • Yes: 2,341,883 (34.1%)
  • No: 4,523,463 (65.9%) Defeatedd

Proposition 61 would have significantly changed the laws in California that govern how much state and local elected officials and employees are paid. It also included restrictions on contracting that affect both state and local governments.

Paul Gann of Proposition 13 fame was the primary proponent of Proposition 61.

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary said, "Sets Governor's annual salary at $80,000; other "Constitutional" officers at $52,500. Limits maximum compensation of elected or appointed state and local government employees and individual public contractors to 80% of Governor's salary. Requires people's vote to increase salaries of constitutional officers, members of Board of Equalization, legislators, judiciary, and specified local elected officers. Prohibits public officials and employees from accruing sick leave or vacation from one calendar year to another."

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
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See also: Amending the California Constitution

Proposition 61 would have:

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • "The initiative would have several fiscal effects on state and local governments, many of which are difficult to measure. The salary limit would affect about 9,000 state employees, an unknown -- but probably similar -- number of local government employees, and a relatively small number of elected officials. Most of the affected employees fall into one of the following categories: (1) top-level managers (such as executive directors of state agencies, city managers, and police and fire chiefs); (2) medical personnel (such as doctors at county hospitals and University of California medical school staff); (3) legal positions (such as state judges, district attorneys and their senior prosecutors, and staff counsel to state departments); and (4) University of California personnel (senior professors and administrators)."
  • "The salary and benefit-related reductions associated with these positions would be about $125 million at the state level, with local government reductions of roughly the same amount. These reductions, however, would not result in comparable savings, for at least two reasons. First, at the state level, the Legislature could use the "special circumstances" provision to approve contracts with employees affected by the limit to provide compensation approaching the former salary levels. It is unknown how often, or how extensively, this provision would be used. Second, governments would be allowed to increase non-salary forms of compensation in an attempt to keep total pay packages competitive with those of other public and private employers."
  • "Any net savings from the salary reductions also would be offset to some extent by other costs. For instance, the prohibition on the carry-over of vacation and sick leave probably would result in increased use of leave time, especially toward the end of a calendar year. As a result, governments would incur unknown costs each year to pay substitute workers in essential public programs, such as police, fire, and education services. This analysis assumes that the carry-over restrictions imposed on vacation and sick leave would not apply to unused leave time earned prior to the amendment's effective date (November 5, 1986). If the courts were to rule to the contrary, state and local governments could face one-time costs of about $7 billion to buy out these protected benefits. A major portion, but not all, of this cost otherwise would be paid out to employees over a period of many years."
  • "An important, immediate and long-term effect of this initiative would be its impact on the public sector's ability to hire and retain qualified and experienced employees. State and local governments compete for these employees with other employers in the public and private sectors. Presumably, these governments are now paying salaries above $64,000 in order to attract and keep competent individuals. Under the salary limit, governments in many cases would be forced to rely on less qualified or experienced employees and contractors. This, in turn, would lead to less efficient, more costly government services. These costs cannot be estimated, but they would be substantial."
  • "In summary, this measure would result in unknown savings to state and local governments from salary reductions. These savings, however, would be offset to some extent -- and could even be outweighed -- by various costs. The net fiscal impact is unknown because it would depend on how the measure is interpreted and implemented."

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