California

Police Pay and Benefits Higher Than More Dangerous Jobs

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CHICAGO—Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics do not support the perception that police officers have very high-risk jobs, or that there is a “war on cops,” according to Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America.
“Police-organization bureaucrats repeatedly state that there is a ‘war on cops’ in order to justify police salaries and the ability in some municipalities for cops to retire at an unusually young age, often in their fifties,” said Tobin. “By retiring earlier than most workers, police officers can literally rake in millions of dollars in pension benefits over a normal lifetime.”
“In fact, the number of on-the-job police fatalities has dropped nearly 50 percent in the last 20 years, even as the total number of cops has doubled. And, by the way, the leading cause of death for cops is car accidents, not violence.”
“Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics prove that police work is not one of the top five or even top ten most hazardous jobs. Police officer fatalities and reported injuries place them at number 12. Eleven jobs are more hazardous, number one being Fishermen, with 129 fatalities per 100,000 workers. The average annual salary of a fisherman is only $27,950 and does not include a pension. The second most hazardous job is that of logger, with 116 fatalities per 100,000 workers. The average annual salary of a logger is $30,360 with no pension benefits. Farmers and ranchers have 40 fatalities per 100,000 workers and earn about $49,140 per year. Sanitation workers have 37 fatalities per 100,000 workers and earn $32,790 per year. Number 12 on the list is police officers, with 16 fatalities per 100,000 workers. The national average annual wage for police is $51,410.”
“Not only are police officers paid well to work, but they are paid extremely well not to work! Retiring in their fifties with as much as 80% of their pay and COLA (cost of living adjustment), they make more after about 10 years of retirement than they did when they were actively working. Their annual pension actually doubles after 24 years of a 3% compounded COLA.”
“Another false justification of excessive pension benefits is that police officers die at a much younger age. The fact is that police officers live as long as non-police officers according to CALPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System) actuarial data.”
“Police protection is vital to a safe society, and we should be happy that is has become so much safer in the past 20 years. But at the same time, taxpayers should not be bombarded by false data from police-organization bureaucrats with emotion-based propaganda in order to justify higher-than-justified salaries or pension policies that include unusually early retirement.”
Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Reason, Apr. 26, 2011
CALPERS

Just another $10 Million Government Pension

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CHICAGO —All across the country, millions of government pensioners are contract-bound to receive lifetime pension payouts, each in the millions of dollars, along with taxpayer- funded, premium healthcare insurance, according to Rae Ann McNeilly, executive director of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
“There has been a flurry of reaction to the ‘discovery’ of Alameda County Administrator, Susan Muranishi, securing an excessive lifetime annual payment of $423,000. We have completed analysis of government employee salaries and pensions in nineteen states across the country and while Ms. Muranishi’s pay is on the high end of the scale, it just isn’t as uncommon as you might think.”
Peter G. Mehas, retired from the Fresno County Office of Education, annual pension – $241,807; est. lifetime payout: $9,357,534
Tapas Das Gupta, retired from the University of Illinois, annual pension – $426,885; est. lifetime payout: $8,337,549
Frank A. Fairbanks, retired city manager of Phoenix, AZ, annual pension – $246,813; est. lifetime payout: $7,404,386
Irene Mitchel, retired from the Pennsylvania Higher Ed System, annual pension – $332, 017; est. lifetime payout: $9,960,523
“Alameda County, CA (ACERA) had fourteen pensioners receiving eight-figure pensions in 2011, the highest being $17,824,590 estimated lifetime payout to Gary Thuman, based on his annual pension of $396,102. This is what he is being paid not to work.”
“Alameda County government teachers have a real sweetheart deal too. Christine A. Lim, retired from San Leandro Unified and enjoys $239,092 in annual pension payments. Her est. lifetime payout is a stunning $10,436,359. Not bad for ‘civil servant’. The top 100 Alameda County government teacher pensions average $5.5 million.”
“How did pensions ever get so outrageous?” asks McNeilly. “These grotesque pension payments have far exceeded any possible original intent of adequately compensating ‘civil servants’ for meager wages that lean government budgets could barely afford for basic services. No, the pension scam has become the number one tool of corruption for top government union bosses to stay in power and to reelect those that would make such deals with the devil. And to ensure the scam proliferates, lavish pensions have been awarded to the legislators who would vote on this issue. This keeps them protected by the state’s laws, and for judicial certainty, the very judges who might rule on any challenges to the system have themselves been made part of the conspiracy with gold-plated retirement security of their own.”
“Knowing all that we know about the desperate state of government pensions across the country, how then do some states continue to hide their pension largesse behind a shroud of legal secrecy? One might think pensioned judges wouldn’t protect their own pension payments from public review. But consider Colorado, where Denver District Judge Edward D. Bronfin ruled that the state’s own treasurer, Robert Stapleton, could not have ‘unlimited, unfettered access’ to the state’s PERA data, holding that individual names and pension amount are personal. When you consider that Colorado’s PERA has at least a $16.8 billion unfunded liability, it would seem the public will be picking up a majority of that tab and it should be open for review.”
“Colorado is not the only state that still hides pension payments from public review. To give taxpayers an idea of what the current government pension laws allow for, TUA estimated pensions for current employees, assuming they meet the terms of full retirement. The shear magnitude of these estimates explains why government bureaucrats maintain the shroud of secrecy. Consider current Colorado State employee, Robert K. Hammond, a Colorado State employee whose salary is $225,000. Under current PERA rules, assuming he meets all of the criteria, he would be eligible for an annual pension of about $168,750 that could accumulate to a lifetime payout of about $5.4 million.”
“Nevada is another state that keeps individual pension payouts from public review. The state keeps its approximately $11 billion in unfunded liabilities hidden as well. Ricardo A. Bonvincin, a corrections lieutenant, was receiving $435,658 in annual wages. Assuming he met all criteria for full retirement, he would have been eligible for an annual pension of $335,456, potentially accumulating to a stunning $15,961,017.”
“And so the list goes across the country.”
“Cities, counties, government boards are buckling under the shear magnitude of these pension promises — promises negotiated out of corruption and expanded to include all who would challenge them, such as legislators and judges. The current government-employee pension system is indefensible on any level. If contractual agreements are honored across the country, taxpayers will be required to sacrifice all their property to ensure that the ‘new elite’ keep pulling in the big bucks.”
“It is actually too late for pension reform, and time for pension settlement for existing pensioners and pension replacement for new hires. It is mathematically impossible to tax our way out of the government pension debacle, so what is left? Stockton, CA, is taking the bankruptcy path to dealing with its fiscal irresponsibility, which will allow it to reorganize its debt. Does every city, county and state government have to go bankrupt in order to fairly settle the incredible financial burden placed squarely on the backs of taxpayers as a direct result of this ubiquitous corruption?”
“But the debt is only half of the problem. Any city, county, state, or court that manages to survive the overwhelming pension crisis and allows the system to perpetuate under the same set of rules is acting criminally. It is time to end government pensions forever.”
Note: All pension amounts are based on 2011 reports generated on data received directly from each of the respective funds and the pension laws in force at the time of each study.

Good Taxpayer News from the West Coast

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California taxpayers are fighting the good fight, holding their own, and have achieved victories that are not reflected in the negative press the state has been getting recently.
The Golden State’s taxpayers are represented by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), which was formed initially to protect Proposition 13, passed on June 6, 1978. Prop 13 cut the property taxes of every California property owner by 60% and requires a 2/3 supermajority to raise taxes.
Thanks to Prop 13, the assessment rate is now only one percent for all California property and annual tax increases are limited to no more than two percent. When property is sold it is then reassessed at market value, but the rate remains at one percent and the new owner is then protected by the two percent cap on annual increases.
According to the HJTA website, by working through the Legislature, courts, and ballot initiatives, the Association has saved Californians billions of dollars. Estimates are that Prop 13 has saved California taxpayers over $528 billion dollars. And when you add in all of the other HJTA victories, the average California family of four has saved more than $57,000 as a direct result of the activities of Howard Jarvis and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Some recent victories include:

  • Successfully campaigned against Proposition 180, which would have cost taxpayers $3.5 billion to purchase land for special interests.
  • Sponsored and passed Proposition 218 — the Right to Vote On Taxes Act — to restore and expand taxpayer protections provided by Proposition 13.
  • Went to court and successfully blocked an illegal $1.9 billion bond that the state was attempting to issue to cover its expenses. The taxpayers would have been obligated to repay principal and interest.
  • Led the fight that defeated the powerful public employee union campaign behind Prop. 56 — a direct attack on Proposition 13, which would have made it way too easy to increase taxes.
  • Led the successful campaign that defeated Prop. 88, which would have imposed a new state tax on all California property owners.

Recent lawsuits by HJTA have saved taxpayers nearly $4 billion. HJTA maintains a full-time presence in Sacramento to lobby against bills that are bad for taxpayers and to promote those that improve taxpayer protections.
Further information may be obtained from the HJTA website: http://www.hjta.org/

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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