The Manhattan Institute's Josh Barro says public sector unions are making life a little worse in Oakland, California:
This month, Oakland laid off 80 police officers, just over 10 percent of its total force, in order to balance the city's budget. As a result, the city's police chief says cops will no longer respond to 44 categories of crimes, including grand theft. The city's elected officials regret the change but say they simply cannot afford to maintain current staffing levels. Whether that's true depends upon your definition of "afford."
At current levels of compensation, yes, Oakland cannot afford to maintain a police department with 776 employees. That's because total compensation for an OPD employee averages an astounding $162,000 per year. But at a more reasonable level of pay and benefits, Oakland could afford to maintain its force, or even grow it….
What's going on in Oakland is an example of a phenomenon being seen across the country: states and cities choosing between providing services to the public or maintaining luxury compensation for public employees. More often than not, public employee unions have been winning this fight, forcing service cutbacks.
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