Bloomberg today has an astounding report on how workers have been able to abuse compensation systems in various states:
Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.
Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.
Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.
It’s not just California. Pension managers are among the worst. In Texas, the head of the Teacher Retirement System was paid over a million dollars last year. Psychiatrists are making $300,000 per year. They even have a few police officers netting nearly $200,000 in compensation.
Look, I think state workers should be paid reasonably. And, on balance, they are. Cato’s research has shown that while federal employee compensation is massively in excess of industry standards, state employees are closer (although with generous benefits and greater job security). But the system of overtime, unused leave and pension spiking, combined with a basic lack of supervision, have created a situation where certain individuals can collect gigantic salaries. In California, one psychiatrist claimed he was working 17 hours a day and pulled in $822,302 in 2011.
You really need to read the whole thing. We are talking about billions and billions of dollars here. From states that are having to slash extant services to feed the pension and perks beast. It’s a disgrace. And everyone — from conservative who hate government spending to liberals who want government spending to help people — should be up in arms about it.