Sen. Don PerataSACRAMENTO (Legal Newsline)-Deputy attorneys general in California could see a big pay increase if legislation carried by the Senate leader is approved.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata's bill would extend to more than 1,000 deputy attorneys general who have been unable to get a salary increase through neither litigation nor union negotiations.
The Oakland Democrat contends that the legislation is needed to recruit and maintain the best and the brightest in the California Department of Justice.
However, critics say with the state facing an $16 billion budget shortfall, now is not the time.
The proposal would tie the salaries of deputy attorneys general, administrative law judges and some hearing officers to the average salary paid to lawyers by 20 public agencies, including the University of California and the eight district attorneys in the state's largest eight counties.
The legislation, outlined in Senate Bill 1718, cleared its first hurdle Monday, handily passing the Senate Committee on Public Employees and Retirement.
Unlike most other state employees, deputy attorneys general are prevented from striking over wage disputes or otherwise engaging collective bargaining.
The deputy attorneys general are represented by CASE, which represents 400 attorneys, administrative law judges and other legal professionals employed by the state.
Union leaders say the legislation is needed because the state's attorneys earn between 30 percent and 50 percent less than their counterparts in other state agencies.
Last year, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge rejected the union's request to be freed from the state's usual collective bargaining restrictions.
The union is appealing the decision, and Attorney General Jerry Brown is supporting the union's efforts.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.