With all the talk about 2 day per month state worker furloughs that amount to about a 10% pay cut, it is a good time to look at state government salaries in California.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage for state government workers in California was $1092, compared to $863 per week for state workers in the U.S. as a whole (about $830 if you took CA out of the total and compared it to the other 49 states). So, the avg. state worker salary in CA is 26.5% higher than the U.S. avg. for state workers.
You could argue that all wages are higher in CA and the difference just reflects that. The BLS data shows that for all workers, the average weekly wage in CA is $960 and the US avg is $855. Considering all workers, weekly wages in CA are about 12.2% above the U.S. So, California government employees have a significantly larger wage difference than the private sector.
There are other studies that show the number of state workers per capita and overall staffing levels are not that high in California. Taxes as a share of income are a little higher than the U.S. average. It won't settle the current state budget mess, but taken together this all suggests that it is reasonable for CA taxpayers to expect some salary concessions from state government workers in both the short-term and long-term.
This isn't to say that all state workers have high salaries compared to other states. These are averages, and it is my understanding (although I don't have the numbers) that salaries are very high paid in certain areas/agencies and not in others.
The gap is similar in local government. Local government workers in California average 26.7% higher weekly wages than their counterparts in the U.S.