- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Pay raises given to every state Senate employee last month will cost taxpayers nearly $2.5 million a year, officials disclosed Tuesday in response to a public records request from The Associated Press.

Senate leaders previously declined to say how much it would cost to give the raises to 874 Senate employees.

The raises include 4 percent cost-of-living increases for employees who are paid less than about $150,000 a year, according to the memo obtained by the AP last month and formally released Tuesday in response to the records request. Employees who are paid up to $178,000 a year get 2 percent raises, while those paid more than that get 1 percent increases.

The increases come a year after the Senate cut 39 staff positions. Senate officials said then that the layoffs were needed because less money came in during the recession while employee health care costs increased. The Legislature also received a smaller-than-expected budget increase.

Senate Secretary Daniel Alvarez disclosed Tuesday that those layoffs are saving about $3 million a year.

“As a result of prudent budgeting, we reduced overall expenditures by making reductions in both personnel and operations throughout 2015 that, coupled with a better than expected stated appropriations limit, allowed for consideration of providing the COLA,” he wrote in response to the records request.

The Assembly is not giving across-the-board raises this year and has not since 2007, spokesman John Casey said previously. However, Assembly members can give merit raises if they have money in their individual office budgets and if the employee has not received a raise in at least two years.

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