State and local government budgets are by all accounts in dire straits.
Last year, collectively, they faced a $100 billion budget shortfall. After 12 months of belt tightening, emergency aid, layoffs and tax hikes, things are even worse.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report this year that the gap could be $140 billion. And last week, respected analyst Meredith Whitney suggested that state governments will collapse unless the federal government offers a trillion-dollar bailout that will rival the bank bailout of 2008.
And yet, across America, many government workers are getting rich off taxpayer-funded salaries. City managers get free luxury cars, firefighters get half-million-dollar lump payments and, in California, one city worker is being paid $500,000 annually during retirement. In New York state, $100,000 salaries can’t be called rich, but at a time when unemployment remains near 10 percent, there are 99,000 state and local workers bringing home six figure salaries.
1. Phoenix – double-dipping top cop
Two frequent causes of outsized government worker pay are so-called “double-dipping” and lump sum retirement payouts due to banked sick time, vacation and other benefits. In the case of Phoenix top cop Jack Harris (pictured above), we have both.