This still is the Golden State for one group of Californians: state and local government employees. A new study by the U.S. Census Bureau found, as of March 2010, those employees averaged $5,744 in pay, the highest among the 50 states. That comes to $68,928 a year, plus cushy benefits and, of course, pensions.


By contrast, average income for all Californians was $43,104. So, our state and local employees made 60 percent more than the folks whose taxes pay them.


Only local government employees in Washington, D.C., made more on average, $5,900 a month, than California's government class. But the District of Columbia, although it now has some "home rule," technically is part of the federal government, and receives generous subsidies from U.S. taxpayers.


"I'm not surprised at the high pay," Nicholas Bavaro told us; he's president of Bavaro Benefit Advisors in Modesto and is a former member of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets the pay and benefits for state legislators. "The trend in California is always to benefit government employees more than private-sector employees. Based on salary, benefits and pensions, people are more attracted to government jobs.


"But businesses can't afford it because we're taxed to death. Increases in taxes on small business people mean we can't pay for our employees, so they go for the government jobs. And now President Obama wants to increase taxes," Mr. Bavaro said.


Gov. Jerry Brown also wants to increase California taxes by $7 billion through an initiative he wants to put on the ballot this November.


Despite the recession and weak recovery, many government workers have enjoyed large pay bumps. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported, "Though the census figures do not provide overtime figures, the data show that during that time period, [California] police officers and firefighters saw some of the largest increases in monthly pay. Police on average made $285 more each month in 2010 than they did in 2009. Firefighters made an additional $65."


Meanwhile in the state Capitol, where the majority Democrats last year were thwarted in their tax-increase attempts by unified Republican opposition, the attitude is, "Let the good times roll!" Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, increased spending for the offices of six Assembly members: Republican Nathan Fletcher and Democrats Wilmer Amina Carter, Julia Brownley, Jim Beall, Sandré Swanson and Anthony Portantino.