By Ivan Osorio, Open Market
Are government employees overpaid? A six-part Bloomberg report answers that question with a resounding “Yes.” It also singles out one state as the biggest spender by far: California. This isn’t a case of a handful of isolated incidents. The team of Bloomberg reporters found a pattern of fiscal irresponsibility characterized by:
- Lack of control in overtime pay and unused vacation time payouts;
- Lack of coordination among state agencies which in one instance launched a costly salary bidding war for qualified personnel; and
- Compensation for pension fund managers that bears little relation to performance.
Government employee unions supported many of the policy changes that have led to the Golden State’s current mess. During his first tenure (1975-1983), Governor Jerry Brown gave state employee unions the right to collectively bargain, greatly increasing their ability to gain more generous compensation — which makes a Brown spokesman’s assertion that, “Governor Brown is busy fixing the many problems that he inherited from past administrations” oddly ironic. (Interestingly, local government employees had been granted collective bargaining privileges by Brown’s Republican predecessor, Ronald Reagan.)
However, it would take the next Democratic governor to really put the state in hock to the government unions. In Gray Davis, the unions found a compliant ally willing to break the bank for them.
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