In the last decade or so, police in big blue states like California have come under a constant assault from politicians whose calls to “defund the police” have demoralized and depleted the state’s law enforcement organizations. Many police have taken their hefty pensions and left the state’s high taxes behind. It turns out, many of them are headed for “Blue Heaven,” a.k.a., Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. James Freeman reports in The Wall Street Journal:
You may have seen the t-shirts with declarations like, “Don’t California My Texas!” or “I don’t care how they do it in California.” As people abandon the progressive madness of the Golden State and seek shelter in places with more sensible governance, long-time residents of the destination states worry that the ex-Californians will bring along some nutty West Coast politics. But this doesn’t seem to be much of a risk in Idaho.
The Gem State has turned out to be a magnet for people with the most experience dealing with the consequences of California chaos: retired cops. This is why a number of readers of this column were especially amused last summer when California’s governor decided to try selling his progressive policy message in the Boise area. Reader Rick Weston commented:
Gavin Newsom in Idaho? He should have gone to Coeur d’Alene which is called “Blue Heaven” due to all the retired LA police officers residing there. He would have received some reception.
The joke’s on California because the former cops have taken their sizable pensions with them. So after Golden State politicians spent years denigrating and frustrating police officers and giving them every reason to quit, the state’s taxpayers now spend heavily to help them enjoy a peaceful life outside of California.
Not that former police officers are the only retired government employees who now enjoy living comfortably far away from the Golden State. Jack Dolan explains in the Los Angeles Times one of the reasons why life is so expensive for the California taxpayers who have been left behind:
In 2000, as pensions were rapidly disappearing elsewhere, California Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation giving state employees one of the most sweeping and generous pension plans ever created.
It granted more than 200,000 civil servants the ability to retire at 55 and, in many cases, collect more than half of their highest salary for the rest of their lives. California Highway Patrol officers did even better: They could retire at 50 and receive as much as 90% of their peak pay as long as they lived.
County and local governments in California that were not part of the state’s plan quickly adopted similar policies so that their best employees wouldn’t jump to state jobs.
Supporters of the measure — mostly public employee unions — sold it with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. To finance it, the state employees’ pension fund would make wise investments and the money would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.
That’s not what happened… state and local governments have spent years shoveling billions of taxpayer dollars into their plans to make up for the losses and keep them afloat.
Action Line: Your Survival Guy has written for years about how bad assumptions in state pension funds are putting tax dollars and retirees at risk. Is it any wonder so many California retirees are taking their pensions and getting out of the state? If you’re looking for a better America, click here to subscribe to my monthly Survive & Thrive letter, and be one of the first to receive Your Survival Guy’s upcoming 2024 Super States rankings.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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