By Mike Luery

California is having a cash crisis, as evidenced by this letter issued today by State Controller John Chiang.

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The state could run out of money by March, yet California is truly the Golden State for nearly 2 million government workers. A new survey by the U.S. Census Bureau shows they are the highest paid workers of any state.

California has about 1.8 million state and local government workers – far more than any other state. Of course California is also the most populous – but the paychecks here are the biggest of any state, as you can see below from the average monthly paychecks for state and local government workers.

DC $ 5,843
CA $ 5,470
NJ $ 5,345
NY $ 5,197
CT $ 5,038

California government workers make on average about $65,640 a year, second only to Washington, D.C. at $70,116. New Jersey is third at $64,140, while New York is fourth at $62,364. Connecticut public employees are fifth at $60,456 in yearly salaries.

By contrast the national average for government workers is about $50,000. Of course the cost of living is higher in California – but critics say government salaries here are too generous, especially in view of today announcement from the state controller.

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“We think it’s ironic that the U.S. Census Bureau would release these figures on the same day that John Chiang announces that we’re going to be running out of cash in March,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Coupal added, “We see a lot of connection between those two facts.”

But government workers we talked to say they’re worth every penny.

“Well I’m worth that,” said Margaret Hamlin-Mills. The state worker added, “I don’t make that, but of course (I’m worth it)”.

“My first three years for the state I didn’t make anything and I have a degree,” stated Johnell Wilson. She added,” But I promoted from within and so, but I’m definitely not making that.”

There’s one category where California is not a leader – the ratio of government workers per 10,000 residents ranks near the bottom of the list.

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