An analysis of the last three years of government salary data shows state employees are continuing to store up massive banks of vacation, instead of heading to Big Sur or hitting the slopes at Lake Tahoe. They're cashing in by retiring with whopping final paychecks worth, in some cases, more than $500,000 in unused time off.
From 2009 through 2011, cash-strapped California paid more than $800 million for days off state workers never used -- a problem that has grown by tens of millions of dollars in the four years since this newspaper first investigated the costly practice...
It's an accounting liability that private companies work aggressively to avoid, but one that continues to pile up in Sacramento. And, ironically, the problem grew even worse in recent years when the state tried to save cash by forcing workers to take unpaid furlough days as an emergency budget fix. As a result, banks of unused vacation grew even larger.
"Is the system broken? Obviously the system's broken," said Tim Malan, a supervising dentist at Avenal State Prison, who retired in 2009 with 247 days off still on the books, sweetening his final paycheck by an extra $317,000... Like Malan, more than 4,000 people retired from the state over the past three years with an extra $50,000 more for unused vacation and comp time, the newspaper's analysis of pay data from 153 state departments shows. That's almost four employees cashing out at least that much money every day. An additional 16,302 state workers retired during the three-year period with payments from $10,000 to $50,000 each...
...Topping the list was Napa State Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Gertrudis Agcaoili, who retired after 33 years with 642 days of accrued vacation and comp time. It cost taxpayers nearly $609,000.
How did she manage to bank so much time?
"It's none of your business," Agcaoili said in a brief telephone interview...
No, it's none of the taxpayers' business.
California is broke, its system of government is broken, and the infernal alliance of Democrats and public sector unions are the primary culprits.
It's hard to imagine how it gets fixed without a complete collapse and a reboot from scratch.