The Democrats' War on First Responder Services
Even as Hurricane Harvey once again demonstrates the essential nature of public safety agencies, few Americans know that the Democrat political machine has been systematically robbing local police, fire and health care services throughout the nation of lawfully mandated funds, intentionally depriving local people throughout the nation of essential first responder services.
Government derives much of its moral authority to tax from its obligation to provide public safety, health and education. Yet as public-sector pension plans create ever-greater demands upon local and state financial resources, The Democrats’ machine funnels so much tax revenue into the corrupt bargain the party made with unions that states and municipalities must rob local public services of funds in order to give their constituents outrageous salary increases, bonuses, benefits and what is called “other pay.” There are two types of demands for this money: salary increases and pensions. Even while revenues increase, the demand for public pensions and salaries has grown so fast that it has outrun the increases in tax revenue. And rather than stabilize pensions or go to 401K type plans, municipalities and states have chosen to violate the Constitution and cut back on essential government public services.
The growth of public sector pensions is rarely discussed by the mainstream media, since the big four public sector unions; the SEIU, AFSCME, NEA and AFT, who collectively have four million members, donate virtually all of their campaign money to Democrats at the local, state and national levels. For example, in Washington the four big unions give 99% to 100% of their national campaign donations to Democrats. This is why school funding, which supports the two largest unions, is a sacred cow to Democrats nationwide. There are no Republican-supporting public sector national unions.
They donate campaign money to politicians in D.C. in order to keep the flow of federal program money to the states and localities. Federal money goes to employees, who kick back a portion to the union, which kicks back a portion to the D.C. pols that keep the money flowing. While the amounts of money involved in the financial support of public sector unions are never reported by the mainstream media, they are astronomical.
The Census Bureau reported that from 2014 to 2015 the total membership for state and local public pensions increased from 19.7 million to 20.4 million, while the number of pensioners receiving payments increased from 9.6 to 9.97 million in that one year. California alone has 5.75 million people receiving public pensions. Nationwide, public unions received $286 billion (more than one-quarter Trillion dollars) in 2015.
This money comes from tax revenues, but increasingly now from bond issuance: a temporary way to kick the can of pension cost down the road. These amounts are not trivial; in 2012 public pensions had an unfunded liability of $4.6 Trillion. And it’s crucial to keep in mind that there’s an additional $3.7 trillion of muni bond debt, much of which was incurred to pay pensions. Chicago’s credit rating is currently at junk bond status, while the CPS (Chicago Public Schools), who also use bonds to pay retired teachers and make up for funds shifted from taxes to pay pensions, also has a junk rating. These ratings make borrowing much more expensive, and Chicago and Illinois and other areas respond by cutting more from public services as well as raising taxes. The Census report also stated that for every public pensioner there are 1.5 people working, a very dangerous ratio. This demand for local and state tax revenue places a greater burden on localities than they can afford.
Tragically, in the past ten years localities have cut back on providing essential local public services in order to finance public employee pensions, some of which reach one-percenter amounts. The city of Stockton, CA filed for bankruptcy in June 2012 when the city was forced into bankruptcy through gross misappropriation of funds. These public funds were not taken by private individuals or corporations, but by the so-called dedicated public servants themselves, who apparently felt that any amount of money that goes into their municipality’s coffers is their own personal property.
The story of the Stockton, CA fire engines is very revealing. In 2012, the city had two fire engines, but because of the misappropriation of maintenance funds, bankruptcy Judge Klein stated in his Opinion that they became so run down that every time they went out on a call they had to be accompanied by a wrecker. Just by coincidence, in 2012, the Fire Chief Ronald Hittle received regular pay of $131,848, but received “other pay” of $118,241 in one year. At the same time rank and file police officers were laid off to pay those exorbitant salaries leading to an increase in violence in the city, and the murder rate had soared.
Similarly, when Detroit filed the largest city bankruptcy case ever, Judge Rhodes noted: “the City is unable to provide basic municipal services such as police, fire and EMS services to protect the health and safety of the people here.”
In Flint, Michigan, a Democrat-controlled city, the reason the residents were poisoned with lead and other contaminants was that the city was motivated to “save money” by switching the source of drinking water to a heavily polluted river.
In Illinois, the most heavily Democratically controlled and corrupted state, the home of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the abuse of public services by the public pension systems has reached historical proportions. In the state capital, Springfield, the local Democrat government cut the police budget by 15% in order to pay pensions. This situation was created by the fact that 100% of the property taxes paid by residents, which is intended to go to police powers services, was diverted to pay pensions. In ten of the biggest cities in Illinois, including Chicago, 100% of the property taxes go solely to pay pensions, none of the property tax revenue goes to public services. This has led to cutbacks to such things as street resurfacing, giving the neighborhoods pothole ridden streets.
This theft of public funds is mandated by IL Statutes which say the “State pension fund” in Springfield can seize state grant money, without limit or restriction, from any municipality which does not fully contribute to the pension fund by Dec. 30 of any given year. County treasury funds can also be seized without restriction.
Illinois has $15.9 billion in unpaid vendor bills, and the interest alone increases $20 million per day, yet the Democrat controlled legislature shut down the Illinois State govt. for two years rather than make any changes. $2.9 billion of these unpaid bills are for health care: seniors on Medicaid are deprived of medication so those making over $100,000 a year in a pension aren’t deprived of one cent of their annual raise. In Illinois, the highest pension goes to retired university administrators and professors: the highest is $564,000. As a result, college students have half of their tuition go to fund pensions. In California the highest salaries, over 40 of which exceed one million per year, go to university public servants.
The trend is clear and very disturbing: public services go unfunded to exorbitant pensions and salaries are maintained.