Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How long can state governments stand plump pensions, double-dipping, boffo bonuses?


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.

Go here to see more examples.

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