No sooner had the California Legislature convened yesterday than a bill was introduced to increase taxes again to raise $2.4 billion per year. But there’s already an extra $2.4 billion in the state budget.
In addition to pensions, the state supplies retired employees with expensive insurance subsidies that in 2019 cost $4.4 billion, $2.7 billion in cash. Always an unnecessary perk — especially for prison guards and other public safety employees who retire at young ages with rich pensions — the subsidies (known as “OPEB,” for “Other Post-Employment Benefits”) became even less necessary after enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and Middle Class Subsidies in 2019 that via Covered California make insurance subsidies available to all Californians — including retired state employees with large pensions:
Taking on OPEB means taking on public employee unions, the special interests legislators fear the most. But the Legislature has the power to adjust OPEB benefits, as the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report makes clear:
Govern For California supports lawmakers who serve the general interest.
PS: Not surprisingly, the bill was immediately supported by the mayors of Los Angeles and Sacramento, both of which also provide OPEB to retired employees, the most expensive of which are police who earlier this year were the subject of tough talk from those and other mayors. Wouldn’t it be nice for progressive talk by California politicians to be matched — for once — by progressive walk?