$594,976 Vac Pay for Gov. Worker

John Seiler:

Incredible. Even after all that has been revealed about the immense government-worker pay, perks and pensions that have bankrupted California state and local governments, more shocking revelations keep coming up. This is from today’s L.A. Times:

Reporting from Sacramento—

Managers in California’s government routinely ignore official limits on the number of vacation days their employees can save, compelling the state to cut huge checks — many worth six figures — for unused time off when workers retire.

Prison doctor Fong Lai received $594,976 when he retired in 2010. Like most state employees, Lai was supposed to bank no more than 80 days of vacation, but his payment represented more than 2 1/2 years of unused time off.

Jay Wickizer, an administrator for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, saved about the same number of days, resulting in a $294,440 check upon his retirement last year. Former parole agent Thomas Berns accrued nearly three years’ worth of time off, allowing him a $268,990 cash-out, state records show.

Such payouts are almost unheard of in the private sector. Most companies allow employees to accrue a few weeks of vacation, but after that it’s “use it or lose it,” said Steven Frates, research director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute on public policy. “The theory behind vacations, of course, is rest and recuperation and recharge.”

But there’s never any rest for those who abuse the system and the taxpayers who pay for it.

On the Internet Front Page today for the Times, just below the link to the above scandal story, is a link to a Michael Hiltzik story entitled, “Hiltzik: Public pension reform, not public-worker bashing.”

He writes:

we’ll never achieve an equitable and effective fix until we dispel the miasma of non-facts enveloping this highly fraught topic.

For example, are public employees better paid than their private-sector fellows? Some are and some aren’t. A study done for the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which is pushing pension reforms, found that public workers at the low end of the income scale were better paid than private-sector workers in similar jobs. But it was the opposite for those in management and specialized occupations, such as computer science.

Well, obviously Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and that Facebook kid make more money than any computer geek in government. And high-level managers in any 500 Fortune company are going to make seven-figure salaries. Such numbers skew the averages in the comparison.

Yet government workers still, on average, make more.  Federal government workers make twice what their private-sector counterparts make, on average, reported USA Today last August.

And in California, according to a study released last October by U.C. Berkeley, state and local workers make up to 30 percent more than equivalent private-sector workers.

Especially in the past 20 years, the government system simply has gotten way out of hand. The government-worker unions are the most powerful force in any state that allows them collective bargaining. They run things. And they have run the costs of employing them as high as they could until taxpayers collapsed from the burden.

May 15, 2011


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