Stockton embraced a combination of overly generous compensation packages for city employees and excessive debt spending—not only on pension bonds but also on bonds to pay for redevelopment projects, which were supposed to revive the downtown area. (They predictably failed, but that’s another story.) The city’s health-care plan was so generous that employees and their spouses could sometimes qualify for lifetime health care after only a short time on the job.... Stockton, which squandered tax dollars on subsidized stadiums and Western European–style employee benefits, shows what happens when such warnings aren’t heeded.
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