Pension funds eating away at California

April 30, 2013 — by Michelle Leung

In nearby Alameda County, a county supervisor receives more money in income and pensions than the president. 

In nearby Alameda County, a county supervisor receives more money in income and pensions than the president. 
The president receives approximately $196,700 annually.
By contrast, Alameda County supervisor Susan Muranishi has an outrageous $400,000 paycheck. In addition to her already extravagant base salary of $301,000, Muranishi also receives $24,000 in "equity pay," $54,000 a year in "longevity" pay, an annual performance bonus of $24,000 and an additional $9,000 a year for serving on the county's three-member Surplus Property Authority. 
Essentially, she is paid an extra $100,000 a year to ensure she keeps working as county supervisor. Muranishi mainly works to oversee city budgets, private property building and voting on laws.
According to UT San Diego, many of her co-workers agree that Muranishi does work hard as county supervisor. However, it is not enough to merit income of over $400,000 a year and an equally large pension. 
As many have noticed, California doesn’t exactly have millions of dollars to give away. California counties and cities are struggling to pay their bills, even in an improved economy. Taxpayers pay hard-earned money with the expectation that the government will create more jobs, improve public services and provide high quality education.
Public finance expert Joe Nation estimates that California’s pension debt was $170 billion in 2011 and has already risen to $290 billion in 2012. 
Where does all of this money go?
Muranishi is not the only government official receiving ridiculously hefty salaries and pensions. Bell City administrator Robert Rizzo earned more than $1.5 million in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times. Similarly, Vernon City administrator Eric Fresch earned $1.65 million in 2008.
These are exceptionally high, of course, and the stuff of scandal, but if California continues to award its officials with billions of taxpayer dollars, other areas such as education will continue to suffer. 
According to the New York Times, California cut funding to public universities and colleges by 20 percent, or $650 million, in 2011. Without funding from the state, colleges and universities can only increase tuition fees and admit fewer students. Tuition has risen by 20 percent in many universities in 2013.
California simply cannot afford to waste taxpayer money on extravagant pay for government employees. Other states already cite California as an example of how not to manage a pension fund; California needs to reorganize its spending and fix its priorities. 
 
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