Friday, October 8, 2010

More gorging at the public trough

State and local government budgets are by all accounts in dire straits. Last year, collectively, they faced a $100 billion budget shortfall. After 12 months of belt tightening, emergency aid, layoffs and tax hikes, things are even worse. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report this year that the gap could be $140 billion. And last week, respected analyst Meredith Whitney suggested that state governments will collapse unless the federal government offers a trillion-dollar bailout that will rival the bank bailout of 2008.

And yet, across America, many government workers are getting rich off taxpayer-funded salaries. City managers get free luxury cars, firefighters get half-million-dollar lump payments and, in California, one city worker is being paid $500,000 annually during retirement. In New York state, $100,000 salaries can’t be called rich, but at a time when unemployment remains near 10 percent, there are 99,000 state and local workers bringing home six figure salaries.

Two weeks ago we published a survey of government workers with super-sized salaries and invited Red Tape Chronicles readers to do some digging. You weren’t shy. More than 1,000 tips came streaming in via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and this blog, and we researched each one. Here are the best – or worst -- examples you sent.

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