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Taxpayers Must Sweat the Small Stuff

Monday September 8th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 7:05am PDT   •  

yolo-seal-200As this column observes, government costs are high because of new federal entitlements such as Obamacare, the federal stimulus program, excessive military spending, the war on drugs, bloated bureaucracy, and new federal agencies such as the Consumer Finance Protection bureau, to name just a few of the big-ticket items. Government costs also run high because of lower-level profligacy that sometimes goes unnoticed.

As Darrell Smith and Phillip Reese note in the Sacramento Bee, in 2013 former Yolo Superior Court boss James B. Perry was paid $275,221, higher than any of California’s other 20,500 Superior Court employees. Most of his pay that year came from a lump-sum payment of $201,319, including $159,523 to buy out his health benefits and $41,796 for 520 hours of vacation time and paid time off.

Lump-sum payouts for benefits are uncommon. According to the Sacramento Bee report, in 2013 only 1,100 of California’s judicial employees received such payments and the average payout was $10,000. Perry’s massive cashout also included some $36,000 in defined benefits, deferred compensation, and “other pay.” His annual salary was $169,524, and he said a number of judicial officials are paid more. As for the lump-sum payout, he claimed it was a good deal for Yolo County, which is no longer obligated to pay for his health care. Actually, the payout is a fantastic deal for him, and a terrible deal for taxpayers.

Perry’s payout confirms that government defined-benefit pensions spike costs for taxpayers, now struggling in a weak economy and dealing with dysfunctional Obamacare. In the independent sector, few workers get cash for vacation days they don’t use, but they must fund this perk for ruling-class officials such as James B. Perry and thousands of others. That’s why government costs more than it should.

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September 2014