Last week, we published an editorial on dysfunctional California, whose uptick in crime is bucking a national downward trend. Public pension expenses have become so great in the state that basic government services are now threatened. Many cities, such as Oakland, simply cannot hire an adequate number of cops. In bankrupt San Bernardino, we noted, the City Attorney has advised residents to “lock their doors and load their guns,” because the government lacks the means to protect them.
Thanks again to massive pension liabilities, the state has been unable to keep up with the growth of its prison population, resulting in overcrowding, which in turn resulted in the court-ordered early release of thousands of inmates, many of whom are already on crime sprees.
If you want to understand exactly how this works, check out this Bloomberg piece, which made the Drudge Report earlier:
California Highway Patrol division chief Jeff Talbott retired last year as the best-paid officer in the 12 most-populous U.S. states, collecting $483,581 in salary, pension and other compensation.
Talbott, 53, received $280,259 for accrued leave and vacation time and took a new job running the public-safety department at a private university in Southern California. He also began collecting an annual pension of $174,888 from the state.
Union-negotiated benefits, coupled with overtime that can exceed regular pay and lax enforcement of limits on accumulating unused vacation, allow some troopers to double their annual earnings and retire as young as age 50.
Just for perspective, this guy made about as much money as President Obama, but only if you count Obama’s expense account. Another state employee banked a $609,000 check just for his accrued leave and vacation pay. You’d almost think they’re cashing out now while the state still has some money to pay them with.
California’s liability for the unused leave of its state workers has more than doubled in eight years, to $3.9 billion in 2011, from $1.4 billion in 2003, according to the state’s annual financial reports.
Yes, whoever you are reading this, you chose the wrong line of work.