Want Big Government Bucks ... Become a Coach or Professor!

Friday - 8/3/2012, 2:00am EDT

According to the experts, federal government employees are either overpaid by 58 percent or underpaid by 24 percent. That's a fact!

Both sides are dead sure their numbers are correct. From their careful and exhaustive studies we can conclude that federal workers are either paid way too much or way too little! Or something like that.

The government vs. industry pay "gap" has been debated for decades. Neither side has budged even a percentage point. But maybe both groups have been looking in the wrong place and drawing their sometimes cherry-picked data from the wrong sources. For example:

Congress is now battling over whether to raise taxes for the rich (which would include most members of Congress) or let the so-called Bush tax cuts continue past their 2013 expiration date. But while most people are focused on Uncle Sam's negative cash-flow, hard-hit state governments continue to raise taxes. For good reason, it turns out. They really need the money ...

A new look at the salaries paid state workers in Maryland and Virginia shows that if you want the big bucks, forget about Washington or working for Uncle Sam in Atlanta, New York or San Francisco. Instead, head for Annapolis and Richmond. Or your own state capital. That's where the money is.

Because they surround the District of Columbia — headquarters to most federal agencies — Maryland and Virginia have some of the biggest populations of feds, and of high-paid feds. But ...

Feds who work, or live in the Old Dominion or the Free State, no matter what their GS grade or title is, may make a lot less than some public employees in states where they pay their taxes. Although many of the top paying state jobs are in the medical field, a surprising number mirror professional and administrative jobs similar to those found in the federal government and private sector.

A special report this week by the Washington Examiner said that 11,500 state employees in Maryland and Virginia earn more than $100,000. Some state hospital officials are paid anywhere from $300,000 to almost $800,000. Coaches at some state schools (whose salaries come from a variety of sources) make millions of dollars each year. One has a contract that guarantees a pay RAISE of $95,000 per year, according to the Examiner.

In many states — including Maryland and Virginia — the governors earn a lot less than many of their employees and almost all of the men's basketball and football coaches at state universities. Although some state university professors were paid anywhere from $360,000 to $420,000 in Virginia, they still earned much less than the coaches. Maryland is even more generous with higher-education pay, the conservative newspaper said.

(For a point of reference, President Obama is paid $400,000 a year with a $50,000 expense account. The Chief Justice of the United States gets $223,500. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earns $223,500 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gets $193,400. Your big federal boss, the Secretary of your cabinet-level department (State, Justice, Treasury) is paid $199,700.) Think what they could make if they went home and got a state job!)

Rank-and-file public employees — at the state, county and municipal levels — have been hit hard by the recession. Many of them have been laid off or forced to take early retirement. In some cash-strapped towns workers were paid only at the minimum wage level (regardless of their position and promised salary).

After two years of attacks on federal salaries — from conservative think tanks and a large portion of the news media — it's good someone is checking things in your state and local government backyards. For the full report, click here:


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore and Amanda Iacone

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