We Tried Austerity, and It Didn't Work

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

Govt For The Majority

Minneapolis, MN

#1 Mar 13, 2013
From the beginning of President Obama's term, Republicans have attacked him for "growing the size of government" and creating a false recovery with higher spending. but it's hard to see what they're talking about. Yes, there's the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. At the same time, however, the United States has seen a record decline in the number of public workers—since the official end of the recession, state and local governments (as well as the federal government) have laid off hundreds of thousands of workers.

In criticizing the administration, conservatives say they want steady cuts to the public sector, offset by private sector growth, and that's exactly what we've seen for the last three years. The results, unfortunately, have not been good. Here's The Wall Street Journal with more:

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers.[…]

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

Here's a chart that illustrates the point:

https://prospect.org/article/we-tried-austeri...

Shrinking the public workforce has done nothing but exacerbate our economic problems, and increase the odds that our cyclical joblessness—caused by the Great Recession—will harden into persistent, structural unemployment. In a sane country, we'd be arguing over ways to inject money in the economy, generate demand, and create jobs. As it stands, we're fighting an epic political battle over the best way to implement austerity.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#2 Mar 13, 2013
So what you are saying is that many dead weight public sector employees are unemployable in the private workforce?

Exactly how is spending $1 trillion more than we are taking in as revenue for the country "austerity?"
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#3 Mar 13, 2013
So, what you're saying is you're clueless ?? I read the same post and you're making up moronic ass-umptions, like usual.

non-starter wrote: I found it, you just won't publish that you got it off Yahoo or Wiki answers ....
THEN the lies began, LMAOROTFU~!

non-starter wrote: No, I guessed, because you weren't forthcoming with your source

OR MY NEW FAVORITE-

non-starter wrote: I found similar postings on Yahoo answers and Wiki answers

You posted to the urban dictionary to support your position...It's called tampering and you're clearly a duplicitous/dishonest POS... Have a nice lie... Oh sorry, I surely meant life.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#4 Mar 13, 2013
Bushwhacker wrote:
So, what you're saying is you're clueless ?? I read the same post and you're making up moronic ass-umptions, like usual.
non-starter wrote: I found it, you just won't publish that you got it off Yahoo or Wiki answers ....
THEN the lies began, LMAOROTFU~!
non-starter wrote: No, I guessed, because you weren't forthcoming with your source
OR MY NEW FAVORITE-
non-starter wrote: I found similar postings on Yahoo answers and Wiki answers
You posted to the urban dictionary to support your position...It's called tampering and you're clearly a duplicitous/dishonest POS... Have a nice lie... Oh sorry, I surely meant life.
Yeah, your tired attacks didn't work 5 months ago, and they are certainly dated now slewchebag. Read Jumbo's title about trying "austerity". We haven't done anything close to austerity.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#5 Mar 13, 2013
So what you are saying(Dumbo) is that many dead weight public sector employees are unemployable in the private workforce?

Exactly how is spending $1 trillion more than we are taking in as revenue for the country "austerity?"
LIbEralS

Saint Paul, MN

#6 Mar 13, 2013
"Shrinking the public workforce has done nothing but exacerbate our economic problems, and increase the odds that our cyclical joblessness"

It has to get worse before it can get better.

Maybe if we didn't have so many jobs being taken by ILLEGAL ALLIENS, there would be a few more jobs available for those unemployed, unskilled public sector workers.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#7 Mar 13, 2013
People have no skills ?? On your planet, right ??? Housewives clean, cook, take care of kids. Teenagers text, type, and learn quickly. Middle aged workers have life experience and training at recent work roles..

WHY YOU GOTTA HATE ???
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Mar 13, 2013
Jumbo's "We tried austerity" as it applies to public employees in California.

$822,000 Worker Shows California Leads U.S. Pay Giveaway

By Mark Niquette, Michael B. Marois & Rodney Yap - Dec 10, 2012 11:54 PM CT.

Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.

Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.

Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.

“It was completely avoidable,” said David Crane, a public-policy lecturer at Stanford University.

America's Great Payroll Giveaway: a Six-Part Series
•Part 1: In Race to Spend More, California Leads
•Part 2: A Bidding War for Prison Psychiatrists
•Part 3: Pension Funds Make Managers Rich
•Part 4: Retirement Bonanzas
•Part 5: Top Paid Cops
•Part 6: Poorer Schools, Richer Pay

“All it took was for political leaders to think more about the general population and the future, rather than their political futures,” said Crane, a Democrat who worked as an economic adviser to former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.“Citizens should be mad as hell, and they shouldn’t take it anymore.”
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#9 Mar 13, 2013
Billions Short

Across the U.S., such compensation policies have contributed to state budget shortfalls of $500 billion in the past four years and prompted some governors, including Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin, to strip most government employees of collective-bargaining rights and take other steps to limit payroll spending.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown hasn’t curbed overtime expenses that lead the 12 largest states or limited payments for accumulated vacation time that allowed one employee to collect $609,000 at retirement in 2011. The 74-year-old Democrat has continued requiring workers to take an unpaid day off each month, which could burden the state with new costs in the future.

Last year, Brown waived a cap on accrued leave for prison guards while granting them additional paid days off. California’s liability for the unused leave of its state workers has more than doubled in eight years, to $3.9 billion in 2011, from $1.4 billion in 2003, according to the state’s annual financial reports.


Among the largest states, almost every category of worker has participated in the pay bonanza. Britt Harris, chief investment officer at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, last year collected $1 million -- including his $480,000 salary and two years of bonuses -- more than four times what Republican Governor Rick Perry received. Pension managers in Ohio and Virginia made up to $678,000 and $660,000, respectively, according to the data, which Bloomberg obtained using public- record requests. In an interview, Harris said public pension pay must be competitive with the private sector to attract top investment talent.

Psychiatrists Lead

Psychiatrists were among the highest-paid employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey, with total compensation $270,000 to $327,000 for top earners. State police officers in Pennsylvania collected checks as big as $190,000 for unused vacation and personal leave as they retired young enough to start second careers, while Virginia paid active officers as much as $109,000 in overtime alone, the data show.

The numbers are even larger in California, where a state psychiatrist was paid $822,000, a highway patrol officer collected $484,000 in pay and pension benefits and 17 employees got checks of more than $200,000 for unused vacation and leave. The best-paid staff in other states earned far less for the same work, according to the data.

Rising employee expenses are crowding out other priorities for state and local governments and draining resources for college tuition, health care, public safety, schools and other services, Schwarzenegger said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Salaries, Retirement

“California spends most of its money on salaries, retirement payments, health care benefits for government workers, and other compensation,” said Schwarzenegger, 65, who replaced Davis as governor.“State revenues are up more than 50 percent over the past 10 years, but still we’ve had to cut spending on services because so much of that revenue increase went to increases in compensation and benefits.”

Brown, who granted state workers collective-bargaining rights during his first tenure as governor more than three decades ago, has reduced pension costs for new employees while leaving most retirement benefits for current workers intact.

Last year, to balance the budget, he used a policy set by Schwarzenegger, his predecessor, to save $400 million through the forced monthly day off. He persuaded voters to back a tax increase, imposed a hiring freeze as his predecessors did and told as many as 26,000 prison employees they might lose their jobs as thousands of criminals are shifted to county jails.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#10 Mar 13, 2013
Inherited Problems

“Governor Brown is busy fixing the many problems that he inherited from past administrations,” said Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for the governor.“California’s $26 billion budget deficit, and the decades-old structural imbalance, was eliminated in large part by cutting waste and slashing costs. The governor also achieved historic reforms to public pensions and workers’ compensation that will save the state billions of dollars.”

Former governor Davis, in a telephone interview, said he now thinks state employee compensation is too high.

“I find it offensive that people who work for the state try to turn around and abuse the state through inflated overtime claims and lump-sum payouts,” Davis said.“We have high salaries, they have to come down. There was a time when we could afford them, but we can’t now.”

Brown, who took office in January 2011, had plenty of incentive to crack down. The per-worker costs of delivering services in California vastly exceed those even in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, where unions have the same right to bargain collectively for the best pay packages, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sinking Schools

The result isn’t only a heavier burden on California taxpayers. As higher expenses competed for fewer dollars, per- pupil funding of the state’s public schools dropped to 35th nationally in 2009-2010 from 22nd in 2001-2002. Californians have endured recurring budget deficits throughout the past decade and now face the country’s highest debt and Standard & Poor’s lowest credit rating for a U.S. state.

The story of one prison psychiatrist shows how pay largesse has spread.

Mohammad Safi, graduate of a medical school in Afghanistan, collected $822,302 last year, up from $90,682 when he started in 2006, the data show. Safi was placed on administrative leave in July and is under investigation by the Department of State Hospitals, formerly the Department of Mental Health.

Long Hours

The doctor was paid for an average of almost 17 hours each day, including on-call time and Saturdays and Sundays, although he did take time off, said David O’Brien, a spokesman for the department. In a brief interview outside his home in Newark, California, Safi said he’d been placed on leave for working too many hours and declined to comment further. An increase in the number of beds at the facility where Safi worked forced him to cover more shifts, and he was allowed to do some of the work from home, said his lawyer, Ed Caden.

Safi and other psychiatrists employed by the state benefited from what amounted to a 2007 bidding war between California’s prisons and mental health departments, after a series of federal court orders forced the state to improve its inmate care. Higher pay in the prison system was matched by mental health, and as psychiatrists followed larger salaries, the state’s cost to provide the care soared.

Last year, 16 psychiatrists on California’s payroll, including Safi, made more than $400,000. Only one did in any other state in the data compiled by Bloomberg, a doctor in Texas. Safi earned more than twice as much as any state psychiatrist elsewhere, the data show.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Mar 13, 2013
Accumulated Vacation

The disparity with other states is also evident in payments for accumulated vacation time when employees leave public service. No other state covered by the data compiled by Bloomberg paid a worker more than $200,000 for accrued leave last year, while 17 people got such payments in California. There were 240 employees who received at least $100,000 in California, compared with 42 in the other 11 states, the data show. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calls such payments “boat checks” because they can be large enough to buy a yacht.

Topping the list was $608,821 paid to psychiatrist Gertrudis Agcaoili, 79, who retired last year from the Napa state mental hospital after a 30-year career. Agcaoili said in a telephone interview that it was her right to take the payment.

‘Against Rules’

“Those payouts are payouts of accumulated salary that it’s against the rules to allow people to accumulate, and it shouldn’t have been done, and shouldn’t be done,” said Marty Morgenstern, California’s labor secretary, who served as state personnel director under Davis.“They didn’t accumulate that kind of leave time in one year. It’s something that went on and on.”

Lacy, the governor’s spokesman, said hiring freezes and furloughs, or the unpaid time Schwarzenegger forced employees to take, combined to inflate accruals of vacation and leave.

Employees are told they must take unpaid furlough days before using paid vacation. That has boosted the backlog of unused leave, especially at agencies with round-the-clock operations.

Other states have taken steps to limit vacation payouts. New Jersey caps checks for departing state employees at $15,000, and New York limits payment of accrued time to 30 vacation days. Most New York employees may accrue 200 sick days, which can be used to offset retiree health-care premiums.

Overtime Millions

California also leads in overtime expenses, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Last year, it paid $964 million in overtime to 110,000 workers, an average of $8,741 per employee. That was more than twice the $415 million New York paid in overtime to 80,000 staff members, for an average of $5,199, and almost as much as all the other states in the database combined. In Georgia, total overtime for 8,935 workers last year was $12.3 million, an average $1,378.

California employees generally make at least 1.5 times their regular pay to work overtime. The state’s overtime costs show mismanagement by the officials who run state departments, said former Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes, a Democrat.

“Government is no different from business; you have to have good leaders,” Barnes said in a telephone interview.“When you have somebody having that amount of overtime, then there’s not good management control, there’s not good leadership.”

Highway Patrol

The best-paid among the patrol’s sworn and uniformed employees make far more than those in other states, with overtime and lump-sum payouts that enlarge earnings, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Former division chief Jeff Talbott retired last year from the California Highway Patrol as the best-paid trooper in the 12 largest U.S. states, with $483,581 in salary, pension and other compensation. Talbott declined a request to be interviewed.

While California’s cost of living and relatively high private-sector pay account for some of the disparities in public payrolls, special circumstances in the Golden State combined to drive wages and benefits to levels far beyond other states, data show.

‘Arduous Duty’

Unions pressed for every perk they could squeeze out of governors and their department managers -- including “arduous- duty” pay for office workers and special bonuses for call- center employees “in recognition of the complex workload and level and knowledge required to receive and respond to consumer calls,” state documents show.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-11/-822...
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#12 Mar 13, 2013
So, what you're saying is you're clueless ?? I read the same post and you're making up moronic ass-umptions, like usual.

non-starter wrote: I found it, you just won't publish that you got it off Yahoo or Wiki answers ....
THEN the lies began, LMAOROTFU~!

non-starter wrote: No, I guessed, because you weren't forthcoming with your source

OR MY NEW FAVORITE-

non-starter wrote: I found similar postings on Yahoo answers and Wiki answers

You posted to the urban dictionary to support your position...It's called tampering and you're clearly a duplicitous/dishonest POS... Have a nice lie... Oh sorry, I surely meant life.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#13 Mar 14, 2013
Jumbo's "We tried austerity" as it applies to public employees in California.

$822,000 Worker Shows California Leads U.S. Pay Giveaway

By Mark Niquette, Michael B. Marois & Rodney Yap - Dec 10, 2012 11:54 PM CT.

Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.

Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.

Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.

Democratic policies don't work, just look at California and Chicago.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#14 Mar 14, 2013
20/20 hindsight and the ability to pretend a single guy is a group and totally responsible ?? Good for you, moron.

Feel free to pretend you're not a POS liar, but NOT to me.

non-starter wrote: I found it, you just won't publish that you got it off Yahoo or Wiki answers ....

THEN the lies began, LMAOROTFU~!

non-starter wrote: No, I guessed, because you weren't forthcoming with your source

OR MY NEW FAVORITE-

non-starter wrote: I found similar postings on Yahoo answers and Wiki answers
You posted to the urban dictionary to support your position...It's called tampering and you're clearly a duplicitous/dishonest POS... Have a nice lie... Oh sorry, I surely meant life.
non-starter

Saint Paul, MN

#15 Mar 14, 2013
A single guy? Your reading comprehension is quite poor. Those pay increases need full approval, not just the governor's final signature.

From the article above:

Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.

You might really want to get some help with your reading comprehension, really, if I cared, I would be quite embarrassed for you.

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#16 Mar 14, 2013
non-starter wrote:
Jumbo's "We tried austerity" as it applies to public employees in California.
$822,000 Worker Shows California Leads U.S. Pay Giveaway
By Mark Niquette, Michael B. Marois & Rodney Yap - Dec 10, 2012 11:54 PM CT.
Nine years ago, California Democrat Gray Davis became the first U.S. governor in 82 years to be recalled by voters. The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.
Davis escalated salaries and benefits for 164,000 state workers, including a 34 percent raise for prison guards, the first of a series of steps in which he and successors saddled California with a legacy of dysfunction. Today, the state’s highest-paid employees make far more than comparable workers elsewhere in almost all job and wage categories, from public safety to health care, base pay to overtime.
Payroll data compiled by Bloomberg on 1.4 million public employees in the 12 most populous states show that California has set a pattern of lax management, inefficient operations and out-of-control costs. From coast to coast, states are cutting funding for schools, public safety and the poor as they struggle with fallout left by politicians who made pay-and-pension promises that taxpayers couldn’t afford.
Democratic policies don't work, just look at California and Chicago.
You are talking about the same state the keeps re-electing Pelosi.
I think that about sums it up.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#17 Mar 14, 2013
non-starter wrote:
A single guy?

The state’s 20 million taxpayers still bear the cost of his four years and 10 months on the job.
Looks like you're either a complete fool...or playing that part quite well.
Bushwhacker

Seattle, WA

#18 Mar 14, 2013
You are talking from the same state the keeps re-electing BatShit Bachmann.
I think that about sums it up.

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