Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 11 58_WOTD_wk_11

April 30, 2021 10:28 AM



Andrew Cuomo Made $225,000 and Is Top-Paid Governor Ever

April 26, 2021


With a $225,000 salary, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the country’s highest paid governor.

That’s as he collects $4 million for writing a book during the Covid-19 pandemic about his graceful leadership during the pandemic — allegedly with the help of his staff, possibly violating labor laws against using public resources for personal gain.

And it’s as he is fighting sexual harassment allegations and scandal from misleading the public about how many people died from Covid in nursing homes.

But the $225,000 is not even his top pay.

In 2018, The New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive Compensation gave the legislature and the governor pay raises.

At the time, state lawmakers made $79,500 and Cuomo made $179,000.

Cuomo’s salary was increased to $200,000 in 2019, $225,000 in 2020 and $250,000 in 2021. But in November 2020, he deferred his latest raise, keeping his salary at $225,000, still the highest in the nation.

When awarding the raises for lawmakers, the commission in 2018 stipulated that the raise would limit outside income to no more than 15 percent of their legislative salary.

But a New York judge ruled that limiting outside pay wasn’t in the commission’s power and blocked that stipulation.

Lawmakers were scheduled to get raises in phases – from $79,900 in 2018 to $110,000 in January 2019, $120,000 in January 2020 and $130,000 in January 2021. But the pay was frozen at $110,000 once the outside pay provision was struck down.

At least 21 state lawmakers got elected, retired, and then got re-elected, utilizing a double-dipping loophole to collect a pension while collecting a state salary.

Cuomo’s campaign coffers are also full of cash, as there are 347 state vendors that gave $6.2 million in political donations to Cuomo between 2014 and 2019, even as the companies collected $7 billion in state payments.




Honolulu “Train to No-Where” Faces a $3.7 Billion Shortfall

April 27, 2021


The project recently collected another $70 million from the American Rescue Plan’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus.

But it has not stopped there.

Now the project plans to spend $1 million on federal lobbyists to help close the funding gap on the project.

But as Republican Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa pointed out when she highlighted the project in her April "Squeal Award" designed to call out government waste, the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project was supposed to be completed by January 2020 and cost $5.1 billion.

The cost has more than doubled to $12.5 billion and its completion date is pushed back to 2023, as it is only half-completed.

Ernst said throwing more money at the project will not get the project back on track, and it should not get any more federal funding.

She is right. Instead of shoveling more taxpayer funds into a project with an out-of-control budget, the money train should be stopped dead in its tracks.




122,258 Illinois Public Employees Earning $100,000 Cost Taxpayers $15.8 Billion in 2020

April 28, 2021


While businesses struggled under the lockdowns put in place by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2020, the high-earning employees of state and local government had a record year.

Our auditors at discovered that more than 122,000 public employees and retirees earned over $100,000 last year, as compared to 109,000 employees in 2019 who collected that much.

We created an interactive map as a tool for people to see the 122,000 public employees and retirees across Illinois making more than $100,000 (by ZIP code).

Illinois public school employees and retirees collected the most six-figure incomes, with nearly 24,500 educators and more than 15,500 retirees pulling in over $100,000. (Most Illinois schools were not back to full-time, in-person instruction as of March 2021.)

We found 16 retired school superintendents pocketed more than $300,000 in retirement pensions.

Top educator retirement pensions included Lawrence A. Wyllie of Lincoln-Way CHSD 210 collected $351,250; Henry Bangser of New Trier Township HSD 203 took home $341,433; Gary Catalani of Wheaton-Warrenville Unit SD 200 got $339,915; Laura Murray of Homewood-Flossmoor CHSD 233 pocketed $334,418; and Mary Curley of Hinsdale CCSD 181 collected $324,796.

Like other states struggling to pay the bills during a pandemic, Illinois would have been wise to pare down its six-figure salaries.



Federal Agencies Spent $4.4 Billion on Public Relations Spending in An Eight Year Period

April 29, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

Between fiscal years 2007 and 2014, the federal government spent $4.4 billion on public affairs salaries, bonuses, and outside public relations (PR) contractors.

Nothing infuriates taxpayers like spending taxpayer money to convince taxpayers to pay more taxes on a larger size and scope of government.

Our oversight report published by showed that the federal government ranked as the second largest public relations firm in the world.

Our report found 3,092 public affairs officers employed in more than 200 federal agencies.

Of those, 1,858 PR officers made at least $100,000 in base pay (FY2014).

While salaries between 2007 and 2014 totaled $2.4 billion, performance bonuses totaled $11 million, with the highest bonus of $35,940 going to an employee at the Department of Health and Human Services (FY2012).

However, the 3,092 public affairs officers were not enough because 139 federal agencies spent another $2 billion during those years on 2,403 outside PR consultants.

Top PR firms reaped federal contracts in the millions of dollars, including Laughlin, Marinaccio & Owens, Inc. ($88 million); Young and Rubicam, Inc. ($57.5 million) and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide Inc. ($48 million).

Some of those firms billed federal agencies for up to $88 per hour for their interns!

During the Obama administration, there was a 47 percent increase in spending on outside PR consultants as compared to the last two years of the Bush administration.

That is a lot of hype to handout.



Illinois Borrows $3.2 Billion From the Federal Reserve

April 30, 2021


With its struggling finances, what better way for Illinois to get out of the hole than $3.2 billion in bond guarantees from the Federal Reserve?

The state borrowed $1.2 billion in summer 2020 and then another $2 billion in the fall from the central bank’s emergency lending program for state and local government issuers, Municipal Liquidity Facility.

It was the first state to take advantage of the new program to help pay for some of the expenses from the economic shutdown and postponed income tax collections.

With its almost-junk bond status, Illinois was “unable to secure adequate credit accommodations from other banking institutions” and so qualified for the financingfrom the lender of last resort.

Its already deep financial woes were exacerbated by the economic devastation of Covid-19 and there are fears that it could go into junk status.

Illinois is rated one notch above junk because of its enormous unfunded pension liability and chronic budget deficit.

With Illinois’ estimated $317 billion pension liability, a family of four now owes $98,000 in unfunded pension liabilities, which is more than they earn in household income, which averages $63,585.

“Short-term borrowing is a short-term band-aid to address the urgency of a short-term problem like one caused by a pandemic,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said during a virtual press conference in November 2020 when discussing the second borrowing.

But Illinois’ financial problems are far from short term.

This desperate move by the state is a revelation: Illinois needs massive financial reform.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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