Calif. treasurer wants reports on top public salaries
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Calpers public pension fund should report the top 100 salaries paid to California politicians so they don't spiral out of control, as happened in the city of Bell, the state treasurer said on Thursday.
"The Bell fiasco shows that when a few greedy public officials are allowed to operate outside public view, they can turn taxpayers into their personal ATMs," Democratic Treasurer Bill Lockyer said in a statement.
Bell's exceptionally rich paychecks for a few city officials prompted an outcry from angry residents and led to the resignation of the city manager, who was earning nearly $800,000 a year.
The Los Angeles County district attorney and the state attorney general, working with the California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), have launched probes.
Fiscal monitors around the country are increasingly critical of the often generous salaries and benefits public workers have won over the years.
But California's laws prevent it from going as far as New York, for example, which now publishes the names of the highest-paid workers at state and local authorities.
Calpers, which at $202 billion is the biggest U.S. public pension fund, already collects the salary and compensation data for public workers -- from politicians to appointed officials -- to set their retirement benefits.
Lockyer, who serves on the Calpers board, would support changing California laws so that it could release more detailed data, such as the bureaucrats' names, his spokesman said by telephone.
Other brakes on compensation Lockyer recommended included getting employers to explain why they granted exceptions to the "average increase" rule and requiring Calpers to review whether these kinds of hikes were justified because they were in line with the compensation paid to similar employees, for example.
Automatic reviews by the pension fund would occur if compensation or benefits exceeded certain limits.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Paul Simao)
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