Ending CA’s Love Affair With Public Safety Unions

Dear CA State Legislators,

You lead the country in spending on prison employees. After granting them six salary increases since 2010, you are spending >$5 billion/yr on salaries for 57,000 state prison employees attending to ~115,000 inmates. But that’s not all. You also spend >$4 billion/yr on insurance subsidies for retired employees, the most expensive of whom are prison guards and CHP. These subsidies, known as “Other Post Employment Benefits” (“OPEB”), are in addition to pensions, which you allow prison guards and CHP to start collecting in their 50's.

No other state showers such OPEB subsidies on retired public employees. Colorado limits OPEB to $115 per month for retirees aged 65 and older, $230 per month for younger retirees. Oregon’s limit is $60 per month. But you impose no limits and sometimes subsidize spouses and dependents. Cities, agencies, colleges, universities and schools spend another ~$5 billion/yr, the most expensive recipients of which are retired police.

Unlimited OPEB subsidies aren’t necessary. Retired public employees 65 and over have Medicare. Younger retirees are eligible for premium support from the Affordable Care Act and Covered CA. Additional support, if any, should be limited.

Unlimited OPEB subsidies must end. You must require retired public employees to make full use of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Covered California before invading government budgets for subsidies and impose limits on subsidies.

Govern For California supports lawmakers who serve the general interest.

PS: While you’re at it, stop giving salary increases to prison employees and waiving required retirement contributions. Also, rationalize staffing. Do we really need 52,000 employees attending to 115,000 inmates?

Originally published at https://mailchi.mp.

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California