Despite $20 billion deficit, California government still offering big paychecks

That adage "One hand giveth, the other taketh away" can apply to California's state and city government agencies, particularly the people in them who determine pay increases.

As the state plunges further into a double-billion-digit deficit and holds a special election next week for voters to determine, among other things, whether to increase state taxes, the outrages seem to come monthly. There's always some group of government workers getting big pay raises, while their peers see their salaries slashed, or are losing their jobs altogether.

First, in late April, more than 120 staffers working at the state capitol were granted salary increases (two-thirds of the increases went to aides for Democrats, the majority party). As taxpayers screamed, the pay increases were rescinded a day later because they were becoming a "distraction."

Next, the Sacramento Bee took a look at salaries for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and found that 80% of its employees earned more than $100,000 last year in salary, incentives and overtime (the Fire Chief made $321,000), while 50 recently-retired employees will get six-figure pensions for life.