Taxpayer Ripoff: The Only Way to Define State Employee Benefits

Marta Mossburg reports in the Washington Examiner that even as Maryland faces a $700 million budget shortfall this year:

[S]tate employee benefits…far exceed those offered to working stiffs in the private sector. The average state government employee benefit package in Maryland is $24,347 per year for its 50,659 full time equivalent employees…

Since private sector workers in Maryland make less on average than state and local government workers, benefits exacerbate the wage differential.

[And] nationally, state and local government employers spend 72.8 percent more on employee benefits than private sector employers do for their workers…

Adding to the disparity, many private companies (not named General Motors) have shifted to defined contribution pension plans, such as the 401(k), which are tied to income and performance. Meanwhile, governments at every level simply define the benefits that workers are eligible to receive upon reaching a certain age, regardless of how poorly the entire system has performed.

And here’s the kicker. Thanks to a weak economy and declining revenue from investment portfolios during 2009:

[In] Baltimore, taxpayer contributions for local government employee benefits are increasing 16 percent in the current fiscal year from last year.

That’s right. In response to the highest unemployment rate Maryland has seen since 1983, additional taxpayer money will be allocated, not to productive sectors of the economy, but to retired members of a workforce whose primary function is the coercive redistribution of wealth.

Maybe private workers, who already subsidize every government salary, don’t mind being forced to fund benefits that they themselves will never enjoy. Maybe Americans are content to buy votes for the politicians who insist on taxing and spending us into ruin.

On the other hand, maybe not. Only time will tell.