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Commentary: California's state lawmakers are out of touch

It's not breaking news that the California Legislature is out of touch with Californians who are struggling to pay their bills in this terrible economy. So we shouldn't have been surprised that Assembly Speaker Karen Bass initially gave 136 legislative staffers pay raises while the state is approaching bankruptcy.

The backlash to the pay hikes was so fierce that Bass rescinded the raises faster than Simon Cowell's head spun after hearing Susan Boyle sing. But Bass' initial decision shows how out of sync legislative leaders are with the people who pay the tax bills.

Bass said Assembly employees work hard and have not had pay increases recently, and deserved raises. That may be true, but how is their financial situation any worse than that of most other Californians?

They've had their wages frozen and in some cases reduced because of the economy. They don't have the generous health plans of state workers or get 14 paid holidays a year. To not understand the great divide between the people who work in the Legislature and the rest of California is a colossal failure of our legislative leaders.

It shows how isolated they've become. Maybe Bass and the others need to talk to workers in the private sector instead of thinking public employees represent the plight of California's working class. It's good that state workers are paid well and have good health benefits, but it rubs many the wrong way when those same workers are complaining about how bad they have it.

To read the complete column, visit www.fresnobee.com.

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