California’s Personnel Costs

Over the past twenty years, as wages in the private sector have remained pretty much flat – not even keeping up with inflation – wages in the public sector have risen relentlessly. A generation ago, a public sector worker would sacrifice current pay for job security and a pension that was somewhat better than social security, but today, not only are public employee pension benefits far more generous than they used to be, but public employees generally make more in current pay than their private sector counterparts. While this assertion remains hotly debated, one seeking the truth might consider this comment – made in a guest column in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month – by former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown:

“The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life,” Brown asserted. “But we politicians — pushed by our friends in labor — gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . This is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide . . . but at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”

If Willie Brown, a friend of big government and big labor if there ever was one, is on record with a comment like this, it’s time to move on. Personnel costs for government employees have grown out […] Read More