Friday, October 29, 2010

This Day in Taxpayer Abuse - Buffalo Teachers Skim $9M in 2009 Alone for Cosmetic Surgeries

One positive from the fiscal disasters hitting our governments of all levels (ex-federal which can just print, borrow, and print some more to its hearts content), is a FRACTION of the egregious abuse of taxpayers is being rooted out. You know, sort of like what happens in a private enterprise that actually needs to post break even (or heck a profit) to stay in business?

I literally could devote an entire blog to this subject from some of the things I read on a weekly basis, but I can only pick and choose some of the most outrageous (hello Bell, CA) [Jul 23, 2010: California City Seeks Dismissal of Highly Paid Officials] or the most fanciful incidents. (hello New Jersey!) [Dec 4, 2009: Public Workers Continue to Live the Good Life in New Jersey] That said, it still pays to be a government worker (at ANY level) in relation to those suckers in the private sector as 'free market' forces have a huge lag. Not to mention being the last major hideout for pensions and "France like" retirement ages. This caste of society is also buffeted by 'stimulus' after 'handout' after 'jobs program' (we don't call it stimulus anymore - dirty word) to subsidize pay/benefits in the state and local government branches. And when all else fails, what a few more mills on the property tax amongst friends? After all, we don't want our teachers looking ragged... here is a toast to the (increasingly) beautiful teaching class of Buffalo.

Via CBS News:
  • Buffalo teachers rang up nearly $9 million worth of taxpayer-covered cosmetic surgery in 2009, according to the state-appointed authority overseeing public school finances. 
  • The Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority found that last year's costs for elective procedures such as chemical peels and other skin treatments were up $8 million over 2004's $1 million tab for cosmetic surgery
$1M to $9M in a span of 6 years?  Nice!
  • The procedures, provided under the teachers' union contract, accounted for 9 percent of the district's total spending on health benefits for employees and retirees, The Buffalo News reported Thursday. 
Impressive - 1 in 10 dollars on health benefits going for cosmetic surgery.  This is the point in the story the union head should shout that if we care about our children we need happy teachers, and we should be very satisfied with this arrangement.

  • About 10,000 school employees are eligible for the benefit. District officials said teachers or their dependents accounted for 90 percent of the approximately 500 people (average $18,000 per person) who received cosmetic surgery last year.  
I don't know much about cosmetic surgery but $18,000 seems a bit pricey for (ahem) "chemical peels and other skin treatments".  but that's the story and we're sticking to it.

Certainly in this time of duress - when districts are dropping programs, crowding more kids into classes, and cutting non critical classes like say... math & science (let the Asian countries do it), certainly the union could voluntarily give this up for 12 months, right?  Because it's "all about the children" right?
  • Smith said the issue of the rider came up during the district's budget talks last spring. "We asked the unions to forgo the cosmetic surgery rider for one year, so we could use the money to reduce the number of layoffs," she said. "They weren't interested."

  • Board of Education member Christopher Jacobs said the cost increase "smacks of abuse" and is asking the district and the city comptroller to investigate. 
  • Most procedures were performed by eight doctors, the newspaper said, including one who billed the district $4.3 million.
Talk about 'transfer payments'!  From taxpayer to 8 doctors ... not too shabby.


A few local stories on the subject here and here.   (p.s. it appears the police have the same benefit) :)  Look folks, America may be broke but no one looks better broke than we do.  NO ONE.  (circus and bread, circus and bread!)
  • All of them were elective procedures that required a doctor's approval.
  • Because the district is self-insured for its cosmetic surgery rider, taxpayers cover the entire cost directly, district officials said.

[Aug 11, 2010: . Federal Worker BENEFITS now Approaching Parity with WAGES in the Private Sector]
[Mar 11, 2010: America's 3 Wealthiest Counties Now Ring Washington D.C.]

[Dec 16, 2007: California in a State of Fiscal Emergency - Coming to a Theater Near You

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