May 1, 2013. San Francisco. The taxpayer watchdog group Taxpayers United of America just released a list of the highest, multi-million dollar pension recipients from America’s government employee retirees. The details shed light on two ever growing concerns. One, government employees are bankrupting the nation with their exorbitant pensions. And two, the most blatant violators are from the San Francisco area, home of big government progressives.
The states with the highest unfunded pension liability.
Recently, Americans were outraged at the news that an Alameda County, California administrator – Susan Muranishi – was receiving a lifetime, annual, taxpayer-funded retirement payment of $423,000. But research by Taxpayers United of America (TUA) in the months since has turned up even more examples of blatant self-enrichment on the part of government bureaucrats, including offenders worse than Muranishi in Alameda County.
Digging up the details
“We have completed analysis of government employee salaries and pensions in nineteen states across the country,” explained TUA Executive Director Rae Ann McNeilly, “and while Ms. Muranishi’s pay is on the high end of the scale, it just isn’t as uncommon as you might think.”
As McNeilly points out, the below list of pension millionaires is taken from just 19 states. The remaining states are fighting as hard as they can to keep the golden parachute pensions of their state’s government employees secret. Based on the shocking findings below, readers can see why.
“How did pensions ever get so outrageous?” asks McNeilly, “These grotesque pension payments have far exceeded any possible original intent of adequately compensating ‘civil servants’ for meager wages that lean government budgets could barely afford for basic services. No, the pension scam has become the number one tool of corruption for top government union bosses to stay in power and to reelect those that would make such deals with the devil.”
Taxpayers United of America’s Rae Ann McNeilly goes on to detail how trillion-dollar government pension programs have taken on a life of their own, infecting every check and balance the system has to prevent such abuse. She explains, “To ensure the scam proliferates, lavish pensions have been awarded to the legislators who would vote on this issue. This keeps them protected by the state’s laws. And for judicial certainty, the very judges who might rule on any challenges to the system have themselves been made part of the conspiracy with gold-plated retirement security of their own.”
Top lifetime government employee pension recipients (from Taxpayers United of America):
*Note, the below estimated total pension amounts are just that, estimates. They are based on each recipient’s yearly pension payment multiplied by average life expectancy.
- Alameda County, California. This county should win an award all by itself. In 2011, it had no less than 14 retirees who would each collect over $10,000,000 in pension payments while they’re retired. And it’s not just the few fat cats at the top. TUA reveals that the top 100 pension recipients in the county each average $5,000,000 in expected pension payments. The county also claims the top two individual spots on the below list.
- Gary Thuman, Alameda County, CA. Annual payment: $396,102. Total estimated pension: $17,824,590.
- Christine A. Lim, San Leandro, CA. Annual payment: $239,092. Total estimated pension: $10,436,359.
- Irene Mitchel, Pennsylvania. Annual payment: $332, 017. Total estimated pension: $9,960,523.
- Peter G. Mehas, Fresno County, CA. Annual payment: $241,807. Total estimated pension: $9,357,534.
- Tapas Das Gupta, Illinois. Annual payment: $426,885. Total estimated pension: $8,337,549.
- Frank A. Fairbanks, Phoenix, AZ. Annual payment: $246,813. Total estimated pension: $7,404,386.
As Taxpayers United of America reminds us, only 19 states provide details concerning the pension amounts that taxpayers are forced to pay retired government employees. The rest of the states are fighting tooth and nail to keep it secret. With so many states’ pension funds missing tens of billions of dollars, they’re being forced to drastically raise taxes and cut services to pay for the lavish retirements.
Currently, the 50 states have an estimated combined debt of $4.2 trillion. Of that amount, as much as $2.8 trillion is owed to retired government employees. Some states, like President Obama’s home of Illinois, have an unfunded pension liability of roughly $100 billion. There was a time not long ago that a number like that represented the United States’ entire national debt. Now, it’s just the missing pension money from one single state. It that doesn’t illustrate the enormity of the problem, nothing will.