The latest unfathomable entry in the state's catalog of horrors: revelations that many cities in Orange County are paying both the employer and employee portions of pension contributions for public workers. Here are the disheartening particulars, courtesy of the Orange County Register's OC Watchdog blog:
Local governments spent $1.34 billion picking up their employees' required contributions to retirement accounts in 2009 -- and $1.96 billion doing the same in 2010, according to data collected by State Controller John Chiang.
That's nearly a 50 percent increase in a single year. We've asked officials to help explain what's going on , and will let you know what we learn.
The individuals interviewed for the piece are quick to caveat. Teachers aren't included, for one thing, and many public officials argue that significant change has been made in the last year (remember, these are 2010 numbers). One claim, however, is particularly risible: the union qualifier that these agreements were made in lieu of pay raises.
It's remarkable that public employees think that makes a difference. It's still money out of the public till. And that money is in short supply these days. Moving it into a different category doesn't change the fact that it's an expenditure California's cities can't afford.