We can tell (pace the Democratic Party) that the USA doesn't have a spending problem because county supervisors get a salary of $410,000 and an identical pension:
[County Supervisor] Muranishi has been with the county for 38 years, and she’s 63. When retirement day comes, she’ll be getting a lot more than a gold watch.I particularly like that she gets $54,000 a year solely because she's been with the county more than 30 years. So this salary isn't paid to her as part of an active market in talent - it's a classic (if outrageous in scale) time-served formula. For reference, the Governor of the entire state of California is only paid $170,000 per year.
That’s because, according to the county auditor's office, Muranishi's annual pension will be equal to the dollar total of her entire yearly package — $413,000. She also has a separate executive private pension plan, for which the county chips in $46,500 a year.
For a sense of scale, Alameda County in California has a population of about 1.5M people, which is a little larger than Birmingham or Bristol in the UK. Its major city is Oakland which is one of the most dangerous cities in the USA, having seen crime rise consistently for about 40 years. You'll note in the quote above that Muranishi has been with the county for nearly all that time, so at this point I'm assuming that Susan Muranishi is one of the primary contributors to a violent crime rate of 1682 per 100,000 residents. I don't know who's keeping her in her job, unless it's the supervisors of the other major US cities whose crime rates look much better when you compare them to Oakland.
I enjoyed reading a 2007 interview with Muranishi where she defined "success" as "making a positive difference." One can only imagine what salary she would have demanded had Oakland actually improved during her time in Alameda County. Her BA in Social Sciences from UC Berkeley led to a presumably unsuccessful retail executive position at Macy's department store before she burrowed into county administration and stayed there.
Muranishi's outrageous salary-for-failure tells us all we need to know about how money is spent in local government. When you're spending other people's money on your friends, it's not much different from spending it on yourself - you spend as much as you can get away with, and hang the value for money.