Fixing CA’s Ugliest Secret

Dear Legislators,

In a world in which The Intercept is criticizing biotech firm Moderna for potentially collecting $10 billion for creating a life-saving COVID vaccine, how do you think you should be viewed for the $10 billion you shower on CA state prison employees every single year?

After six increases since 2010, salaries alone top $5 billion, and that’s for 57,000 active prison employees attending to fewer than 125,000 inmates. The balance consists of active employee health care, pension costs (CA prison guards can retire as early as age 50 with the highest pensions in the land) and Other Post-Employment Benefits (“OPEB”), which — unbelievably — include lavish medical and prescription drug coverages for retired employees and their dependents on top of Medicare andeven if recipients qualify for premium support from the Affordable Care Act or the California Premium Subsidy.*

For all its progressive talk, no state engages in greater fiscal oppression than California. The $10 billion you divert to compensation and benefits for prison employees is 5x the amount you give state courts and 2.5x the amounts you give UC and CSU. At a minimum, you must reform OPEB in 2021. Those billions are needed for services.

Govern For California supports lawmakers who serve the general interest.

David Crane

*The same goes for cities like Los Angeles, school districts like San Francisco’s, universities like UC, and transit agencies like BART, who are unnecessarily diverting billions to OPEB from services while leaving federal and state dollars on the table.