Taxpayers Well Served by Public Sector Double Dippers

Double Dip Pensions

Two scoops are better than one, at least if you are a public employee…

Those whipping up public angst about the pay, benefits and pensions government employees receive are on a new harangue – government employees who are eligible to retire, do so and then go to work in another job for government, drawing pay and benefits for the new job. The sensationalistic approach to reporting cases such as this is to add the retirement pay of these retirees to the pay of the new job they have, and to make it appear even worse throw in the cost of non-taxable fringe benefits.

For high level jobs, such as the Orange County Sheriff or CEO, the total is over $400,000 a year. Many taxpayers that read about such combined compensation packages get angry, feeling taxpayers are being ripped off. But is this the case, or is it shallow analysis, purposeful incomplete reporting, jealousy, or just what?

Take our Sheriff. According to news reports she is drawing $ 138,007 in annual retirement pay from the County of Los Angeles, and her compensation package here (including benefits that are not taxable income) is reported to be $ 354,236 a year, for a combined total of $ 492,243 per year. A tidy sum, but where is the taxpayer rip-off?

If Sheriff Hutchens was not the Orange County Sheriff, she would still draw her LA County retirement pay. And the Orange County Board of Supervisors would have appointed someone else to be Sheriff at the pay Hutchens is earning here. Bottom line, taxpayers would have the same costs – $ 492,243 a year (For the sake of this argument I am accepting the premise that Hutchens’ LA retirement is “taxpayer money” but that itself is an arguable point.)

Such is the case when any vacant government job is filled by someone who is drawing a retirement from a government agency. Filling a job with a so called double-dipper does not cost the taxpayer any more than if filled by someone who is not yet a government retiree.

Why the attack on double dipping then? With unemployment in the 10% range it galls people to hear of such income levels. There is much envy, jealousy, and anger. Unions fight the practice for unionized government jobs because a job temporarily filled by a retired government worker does not bring in monthly dues to the union.   And anti-government media and special interests have found many in the public can be steered to a backlash movement by telling only part of the story. 

Here is the rest of that story.

There is much to be said for hiring experienced executives for the toughest jobs in government. Many times the most experienced have had a government career some place and have retired from that job. Recruiting them, and yes sometimes begging them, to take tough jobs like Orange County Sheriff or CEO obtains the best experienced talent available. The taxpayers are not being ripped off but are being well served. There is no taxpayer rip-off here.  The costs are the same.


About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.