June 16, 2010
CONTACT: Lani Lutar
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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
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SDCTA Releases Comparison of Military vs. Public Safety Pensions
Document reveals numerous significant differences in calculations and compensation
(San Diego) – As part of the escalating civic discussion about public sector pensions, observers of public safety pensions in particular frequently draw comparisons with military pensions. The San Diego County Taxpayers Association was prompted to study the comparison to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction. SDCTA’s analysis reveals local public safety employee pensions are much more generous than that of military personnel.
Although the jobs of the military and those of local police, fire, and lifeguard personnel can be quite different in their scope and pay, evaluating their comparative pension benefits is an insightful exercise.
Through its review, SDCTA found the following significant differences in pension benefits among local public safety and military employees:
- Military employees cannot receive more than 75% of their highest year’s base salary. Local safety employees can receive nearly 100% of their highest year’s salary. For example, someone earning a base pay of $100,000 in the military cannot receive more than $75,000 while someone in local public safety with the same base pay can earn more than $98,100 (a difference of $23,100 annually for life).
- The pay for the scope of job duties varies widely between military and local safety employees. In many cases, military employees are paid far less than local safety employees when base pay alone is compared.
- Military pensions are only calculated on base pay while local public safety can include additional negotiated perks, such as the amount of the employee portion picked up by the City (which can increase pension benefits by up to 9%).
Gleisberg emphasized that he respects and appreciates the work of public safety personnel, “We consider all our fellow police officers and firefighters to be fellow heroes in the eyes of all Americans,” said Gleisberg. “However, this comparison demonstrates why local government pension costs have spiraled out of control.”
In comparing final compensation, SDCTA consulted with various experts in military fields. As a result, SDCTA compared positions with similar duties only and therefore pay for these positions varies.
A copy of SDCTA’s review on military vs. local safety pensions can be downloaded at www.sdcta.org.
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary new taxes and fees. Founded in 1945, SDCTA has spent the past 65 years saving the region’s taxpayers millions of dollars, as well as generating information to help educate the public.