By Mike Luery

Despite massive cutbacks to programs helping the poor, a newly hired government bureaucrat will take home more than a million dollars in salary and benefits over the next three years. The bureaucrat, Will Lightbourne, has been on the job only four days as the state’s new Director of Social Services, but already there’s plenty of controversy – because he’s making more money than the governor.

Times are already tough for Californians on welfare.

“Can’t find a job, it’s hard, really hard,” said a woman outside a Sacramento County welfare office. She identified herself by first name only: Antoinette.

But the state’s new welfare czar, Will Lightbourne, is making $216,000 a year in salary.

“I totally think that’s unfair,” said Tarl DeHaven, a welfare recipient. He told CBS 13, “There’s a lot of people in Sacramento, in California that are on the streets that don’t have anything to eat at all.”

Lightbourne will make $43,000 more than the governor who appointed him – Jerry Brown.

On The Money spoke with Will Lightbourne today and asked him point blank:
“Bottom line, are you really worth more than the governor?

Lightbourne responded, “That’s something the governor would have to tell you.”

The governor’s office defends the new hire, saying Lightbourne has years of experience bringing welfare services down to the local level – he’s been social services chief in three California counties. Lightbourne is technically an executive on loan from Santa Clara County – but making $50,000 more than the previous state director of Social Services.

“How can that be justified in this era of limits?” this reported asked Lightbourne.
“I really don’t think it’s my place to justify it. My job is to focus on the tasks at hand,” he told CBS 13.

Capitol Republicans claim the arrangement violates state law.

Brian Jones, a Republican Assemblyman from Santee told CBS 13, “He’s being paid $50,000 more than the maximum allowed by state law. The average grant for children in California on welfare is $500 a month. So that’s 100 months worth per year of grants that are now not going to be able to go to the children.”

Lightbourne will also receive a $400 a month car allowance – at a time when state lawmakers are having their cars taken away.

“I receive a car allowance as part of the county compensation. I don’t bill anyone for mileage and the travel is all on me,” Lightbourne told CBS 13.

But welfare recipients CBS 13 talked to were surprised to hear Lightbourne’s total compensation package, including salary and benefits: $1.2 million over three years.

Antoinette commented, “Well he’s taking everything from us. We’re poor people; they need to give it back to the poor that’s what I think.”

Republicans are calling for an investigation of the pay deal and they have filed a public records act request with the governor’s office to examine the contract.

The governor’s office has ten days to respond.

Send us your On The Money story ideas via e-mail at onthemoney@kovr.com. You can also follow On The Money stories in progress via Twitter at: @mikeluery.

Comments (13)
  1. hughes says:

    Ole Jerry BOB ~~ This is BULL$HIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Baaaah! says:

    This is the problem with government, our budget, etc. We the people… WAKE UP!

    1. LarryR says:

      I agree…

  3. Todd says:

    This is the kind of waste in which we DON’T need a tax extension package. If it gets on the ballot, you will be a fool if you vote yes for it. Cut the waste and spending! Quit taxing us for this garbage! This is a heated topic that will put a good dent in Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extension sales pitch, and rightfully so.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Antoinette shouldn’t complain, she’s getting pd, to do nothing. At least Lightbourne is working and maybe he has a plan to get these moochers off the system.

  5. us and them says:

    Do away with welfare to away with the tax extension do away with high incomes this is just a big waste Gov.Jerry Brown i do not get this you are trying for a tax extension or we will have to cut back on more programs and then you go and pay a million dollar salary to one person is this what the tax extension for?i have cut back so much i am not living i am paying taxes so other people can live a very good life.

  6. emily says:

    This is so dumb instead of cutting welfare benefits the governor should raised the benefits n whats the whole point for a tax extension, its not gonna do any good n the governor should 1st let the voters choose what to do and then he should say whats really gonna happen its not fair that he picks 1st its up to the voters

    1. LarryR says:

      No he should not raise the benefit amount, as the purpose of the benefit is to help you get on your feet again not live off the tax payers.

  7. Sal says:

    how could he have taken things from the poor when the poor didn’t have anything in the first place? get off your lazy behind and go find a job! all the taxpayers are supporting you welfare bums! you didn’t do anything to earn welfare.

  8. LarryR says:

    Someday, but I highly doubt it California will wake up and see what the Democratic Party is all about. They do not know how to save money or to cut costs… I do not care if I have to crawl to the polling place when and if they put the tax extension on the ballot to cast my “NO” vote. I am hating this state more and more with every passing day.

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