Big government pensions brought into question
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - It's costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year across Pima County and the City of Tucson, and one group says it's gone too far. They're talking about big pensions for government workers. It's at the center of the U.S Postal Service's financial crisis, and the issue that crippled the state of Wisconsin and led to the governor's recall election.
A group called Taxpayers United of America (TUA) is now traveling the country to spread the word on pensions, and how much taxpayers are putting in.
Jim Tobin with TUA says the system needs to change.
"it's just tearing the country apart and if it doesn't change, it will. It will tear the country apart," he sad, "Taxpayers who make an average forty-thousand dollars a year in the Tucson area are subsidizing these people for up to thirty years or more to do absolutely nothing."
9 On Your Side dug deeper into "double-dipping" in February, finding out Tucson city manager and former police chief Richard Miranda takes in more than $300 thousand a year with his police retirement pension and current salary.
Others on TUA's list of top pensions in Pima County earn as much as $125 thousand a year. If they retire at age 60, it could mean millions of dollars.
9 On Your Side wanted to know how this is justified. Pima County supervisor Richard Elias says competitive pension make up for salaries that pay less in the private sector. He added the top name on the TUA's list was the county's chief forensic scientist... a doctor who gave 30 years to public service.
"I would say that many more of our employees are just like them and retire with thirty-thousand dollar salaries than that list of names that you have there," he said, "Those are the exceptions rather than the rule."
According to a 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, government and private sector job salaries on average are similar, with local government employees earning an average of $2 thousand less, but factoring Federal and state workers, it averages about $2 thousand more.