Maybe there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, at least if you are one of the nearly 10,000 retired California public sector employees pulling down tax-paid pensions of $100,000 or more.
A total of 6,133 of the members of the "$100,000 Pension Club" are covered by the infamous CALpers system that critics often cite as among the most politicized and mis-managed public retirement programs in the country. You can see all of the names of the individuals in the club and their monthly and annual stipends here.
Be prepared for a shock, though, because you may not believe the numbers you find. The top 10 CALpers retirees include Bruce Malkenhorst whose $499,674 annual pension puts him on top of the list. Then there's Joaquin Fuster at $296,555, in second, and Donald Gerth in third with $278,054.
Then there is CalSTRS for retired public school teachers, which features 3,090 pensioners drawing $100,000 or more. Topping that list is James Enochs, drawing an annual stipend of $285,460, followed by James Smith at $262,796 and Susan Rainey at $256,048. You can see all of the names of all 3,090 CalSTRS members in the $100,000 Pension Club" here.
The data for these outrageous public pensions is available on the Internet, thanks to California Pension Reform and the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.
For more examples of the financial havoc public sector unions are wreaking on state and local government, check out Doug Ross's excellent blog post entitled "Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror: How the Teachers Unions are Destroying California's Economy."
Sound like hyperbole? If anything, Ross is underplaying the dire seriousness of the financial situation facing California government from one end of the state to the other.
And for those who think that's just California's problem, check out the latest report from the Pew Center on the States about the $1.5 trillion unfunded public sector pension liability staring in the faces of state and local taxpayers in every state of the union. As California goes under now, so goes virtually every other state if fundamental reforms aren't enacted immediately.
It's bad enough that the federal government's unfunded liabilities under Social Security, Medicare and multiple other federal entitlement programs are coming due. So anybody who thinks Uncle Sam can bail out the states is kidding themselves.
UPDATED: They've got'em in New York, too
Gothamist reports that the New York City public school system has at least 738 retirees receiving $100,000 or more annually in tax-paid pensions. The city has approximately 750,000 public school retirees and funding their pensions will cost in excess of $7 billion this year, according to the New York Post.