Vital services. Like the fact that more than 400 judges in Los Angeles County alone earn more than the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Mercury News reports that judges throughout California counties get a staggering array of perks, from free health club memberships to a staggering $600 per month car allowance. Eighteen of California’s 58 counties give more than 800 superior court judges about $25 million a year in extra benefits on top of their $179,000 state salaries.
The heftiest perks go to Los Angeles County judges, who get $46,000 a year from the county on top of their state salaries, giving them a total of $225,000. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts makes $217,400 per year, and associate justices bring in $208,100. While there were some moves to reduce these, the Legislature reinstated the perks just before the budget was passed in February.
Of course, California has a long tradition of taxing workers to pay for excessive salaries to bureaucrats.
As we reported last year, over 6,000 L.A. city employees (and note – this is just LA, not California) bring in over $100,000, more than 21,000 bring in over $70,000 per year and gross annual city payroll costs increased $120 million between 2007-2008, bringing total city payroll to $3.2 billion – almost half of the city’s budget.
It’s great that this scandal came to light, but the fact that we only learn about this through investigative reporting demonstrates why California needs full transparency legislation, where this kind of information is continuously and readily available to all, no request or breaking through bureaucratic red tape required. All government expenditures must be posted online in a searchable and timely manner. 13 States have enacted comprehensive transparency legislation, and numerous governors and constitutional officers have also launched transparency websites. The legislation proposed by Sen. Bob Huff provides a good starting point for this.