State workers' salaries blamed for California budget problems, study says


The new Center for Government Analysis study shows a big discrepancy in paychecks when you compare state workers vs. Californians on a per capita basis. Estimated state worker wages, including pensions, were roughly $65,000 a year back in 2005. It jumped to $80,000 five years later, a difference of 23 percent.

For the rest of Californians', personal per capita income was almost $39,000 a year, increasing to more than $42,000, a jump of only 10% during the same time period. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation funded the research, calling the numbers a dangerous compensation trend.

"This is demonstrating, again, how California misspends money. The state employees have received compensation increases not found in the private sector, and that's one of the reasons we find ourselves in perennial deficit situations," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Foundation.

The report concluded that had the public sector grew at the same rate as the per capita income levels, the state of California would have saved $2.1 billion -- enough to add 25,000 teachers.

But public employee unions disagree with the report, which they say unfairly labels them as the source of California's budget problems. They point out per capita income includes every Californian, including people not working and highly-paid public university executives -- groups that skew the numbers.

The unions also say the average state worker has taken numerous pay cuts, furloughs and pension reductions since the Schwarzenegger administration.

Willie Pelote of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says the focus should be on corporate tax breaks.

"The tax credits that the state of California provided to corporations who do not pay taxes in this state because they set up a company in Reno -- that's the problem for our state, not state employees who provide essential services to the people who live here," said Pelote.

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