The $499,000 Pension and Other Tales of California Governance


How hosed is California based on state-sector pension obligations alone? Alert reader Robert Kelley sends along this gruesome little database of the 5,115 people currently drawing pensions in excess of $100,000 from the Golden State. (If you want to go down a fascinating rabbit hole of Internet searching, I highly recommend looking up the half-mil-pension-receiving Bruce Malkenhorst.) Kelley comments:

I used to work at a library and for a city government in the Bay Area.  I took a look at some people who I knew worked there and retired recently.  One librarian had retired with a $110k a year pension.  A former police chief who retired recently (in his early 50s) from my tiny city now has a pension of $185k a year.  These government workers are retiring with full health care benefits for them and their families at no additional cost, and they can retire at age 50 or 55 depending on where they work.

It's an amazing gravy train.  Given that a person at age 55 can reasonably expect to live 30 years now, that means the effective yearly salary paid to those people during their working years is about double what is stated.

The next time you hear about a schmuck Coastal Commission Analyst only making $80k a year, think about that.  The real cost is more like $160k a year.  Beats working.

While public employees continue enjoying gold-plated retirements, the ongoing media scare campaign over Gov. Schwarzenegger's "annihilating" cuts continues apace. The latest, care of also-alert reader Ray Eckhart, comes from the New York Times, under the headline "Deep Cuts Threaten to Reshape California." The word "pension" was not harmed in the production of this article.

The cuts Mr. Schwarzenegger has proposed […] would turn California into a place that in some ways would be unrecognizable in modern America: poor children would have no health insurance, prisoners would be released by the thousands and state parks would be closed.

Nearly all of the billions of dollars in cuts the administration has proposed would affect programs for poor Californians, although prisons and schools would take hits, as well.

My take on big-California-government apologists who don't ever come out and say big California government is kewl, here.