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California Stem Cell Agency Proposes Unjustified Increase in Top Salary Ranges
Date:2/19/2008

Agency's Counsel Already Received $65,000 Raise After 10 Months On Job, Topping State AG's Pay

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California stem cell agency is proposing raising salary ranges for top employees a whopping 50 percent, an increase that is unjustified in the face of a state budget crisis, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.

The proposal, to be considered by the stem cell agency's Governance Committee on Wednesday, comes after a $65,000, 41 percent, pay raise given to the agency's general counsel, Tamar Pachter, in December after 10 months on the job. With the increase Pachter now makes $225,000, more than state Attorney General Jerry Brown's annual salary of $184,301. Pachter was a state deputy attorney general when she was hired by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) last spring at a salary of $160,000.

"They are demonstrating a particularly tone-deaf action at a time when the state faces a serious budget crisis," said John M. Simpson, FTCR Stem Cell Project Director. "These salaries and proposed ranges are simply too high for an agency that when fully staffed will have a total of 50 employees. For comparison, the governor's salary is set at $212,179."

The Governance Committee is being asked to set the top salary range for the oversight committee chairman and the agency's president at $618,750, a 50 percent increase from the current top of $412,500. The new president, Alan Trounson, is being paid $490,000, an amount already above the current official range of $275,000 to $412,500. Chairman Robert Klein has declined to take a salary.

The proposal would increase the counsel's salary range from $150,000 to $225,000 to a new range of $150,000 to $337,500.

"CIRM doesn't operate with some financier's private stash of cash," said Simpson. "CIRM is a state agency funded by taxpayer dollars. It needs to act like one."

Proposition 71, passed by 59 percent of Californians in 2004, created the stem cell institute. FTCR's Stem Cell Oversight and Accountability Project is working to ensure that California's landmark stem cell research program offers accessible and affordable cures and treatments to the taxpayers who have funded it. The program will sell $3 billion in bonds over a decade to fund stem cell research. Financing charges mean the project, the largest source of stem cell research funding in the world, will cost California taxpayers $6 billion.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California's leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.


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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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