Many Californians have become cynical about the padded pensions of government retirees. There are at least a couple of reasons: The sizable number who are earning as much or more in retirement than they did while working -- which would be impossible in the private sector -- and the number whose pensions are $100,000 or more, sometimes at age 50.
This week, through reporting by our sister paper in Sacramento, we learned about another maneuver that is costly to taxpayers and lucrative for government workers.
The scenario: Government employees voluntarily retire, start receiving their government pension and then come back to work for the government on a part-time basis. If they get laid off because of government downsizing, they can collect unemployment checks, continuing the double dipping.
This practice is outrageous and should be stopped. Putting an end to it would be a worthwhile task for all those who campaign on the promise to stop government waste. This precisely fits that definition.
Unemployment benefits were never intended for people who had retired from their jobs. The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday that the unemployment benefits scam is going on throughout California. (That story appeared on Page A-3 in Wednesday's Modesto Bee.)
Unfortunately for taxpayers, collecting jobless benefits for leaving the same government position that workers retired from years before is legal under state and federal law.
Unemployment benefits for government workers are paid for by taxpayers; California workers don't pay into the unemployment insurance fund. When they file a claim, state unemployment officials bill the government agencies -- cities or counties, for example.
Not surprisingly, the state doesn't track the amount of unemployment benefits going to retirees, according to the newspaper report. Those numbers fly under the public's radar. But taxpayers are paying the bill, even if they don't know about it.
Governments shouldn't claim they don't have enough money to operate while at the same time allowing such wasteful practices.