In reviewing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_ballot_propositions it seems that the ballot propositions that have gotten Californians excited recently involve same-sex marriage and marijuana. In looking through the past 20 years of propositions, I couldn’t find any that relate to the biggest costs to Californians, i.e., public employee salaries and pensions.
Naively I would think that middle class voters who learned about police and fire department workers earning $300,000 per year and receiving an inflation-adjusted pension of $200,000+ per year would be interested in propositions such as the following:
- public employee pensions must be based only on an average of five years of base pay and cannot be spiked up by overtime, vacation, or other additional payments
- public employees within California cannot receive more in compensation than the President of the United States (ABC says that the city manager of a 90-person town was earning $1.6 million per year or 4X the salary of Barack Obama; Bell, CA’s manager earned $800,000 per year and $600,000 per year as a pension)
- California governments cannot offer defined benefit pensions to any new public employees
- no police or fire department employee can receive more than 10,000 times the median hourly wage within the state (would translate to $181,210 per year currently)
- no police officer or firefighter can receive more than double the pay of a U.S. Army soldier of analogous rank serving in a combat zone (chart)
Perhaps California readers can explain why nothing like these seem to have been proposed. There have been some tax- and spending-related ballot propositions, but none that seem to directly address the biggest expenditures of the state (Vallejo was spending 74 percent of its budget on police and fire salaries (source)). I wouldn’t necessarily expect such propositions to pass, but I would at least expect them to be offered to voters.