During the 2010 California gubernatorial election cycle, Democratic candidate Jerry Brown promised to amend the Golden State’s beleaguered pension system. On April 1st of this past year, for example, he went even further by laying out his “12 point plan” to stifle pension abuse and reign in spending. Despite this pledge, however, a number of political appointees in California are now circumventing state statutes by collecting a full-time salary and pension at the same time. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Every month, Ann Ravel gets a paycheck from her salary as chairwoman of California's ethics watchdog agency and a second, bigger check from her public pension as a retiree.
The double payments, which total more than $305,000 a year, represent the kind of costly pension perk that Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to rein in.
But since he assumed office nine months ago, Brown has appointed numerous officials like Ravel to state jobs in which they can simultaneously collect a full salary and a public pension.
One is earning $234,000 in combined wages and pension to serve on California's state's unemployment board, which the governor wants to eliminate. Six Brown appointees to the state's parole board are layering wages atop pensions.
"That should be against the law," said Marcia Fritz, a certified public accountant and president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which seeks to end what she called "double dipping."
While I’ll concede that the above-mentioned individuals are highly qualified, and deserve to be appointed, these bureaucrats are undeniably collecting exorbitant incomes at the expense of the American taxpayer. Over the last few months, President Obama and the liberal establishment has consistently denigrated “millionaires” and “billionaires”, urging them to pay their “fair share” in taxes during these tough economic times. But what he fails to recognize is that the source of our soaring national debt stems not from lack of revenue, but from the profligacy of government. California, which borrowed $5.4 billion last July from various financial institutions just to stay solvent during the debt ceiling crisis, is struggling to meet its pension obligations. The burden, as expected, has fallen on taxpayers, who must come up with $3.51 billion this year alone to pay for their state’s entitlement programs.
If Governor Brown is serious about reducing California’s deficit -- then the pension system must be fundamentally reformed. And I’m certain that raising taxes on corporations and individuals to pay for them -- while allowing political appointees to collect more than one government paycheck -- is not a sustainable solution.