Pensions for public employees in California are growing at an unsustainable rate, adding to the deficit problems for the state ($20 billion-plus) and cities like Los Angeles (which would face a nearly $700 million deficit in July if the council doesn't make some serious moves soon). The Orange County Register's OC Watchdog blog notes that the number of state and local retirees collecting $100,000 and more a year in pensions is increasing at a rate of (hold on to something) … more than 60 percent.
The blog trots out these sobering numbers for what it calls the statewide “$100,000-plus public pension club:” Membership in 2006, not included highly paid judges, was at 1,700;
In 2009 it had counted 4,878 people; today it's at 7,832 members.
The Register reports it started in 1999 with “tax-guaranteed pensions for state employees” and was spread to localities in 2000 with a new law. The result is that some public employees make more in retirement (former Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief David Gascon, for example, makes more than $200,000 a year post-LAPD) than they did when they were putting in 40-plus hours a week.
It seemed like a nice perk when budgets were flush, but it's helping to flood the state and cities with red ink as tax revenues have taken a dive in this sour economy.