Sacramento, CA. A group of conservative California taxpayers asked a state court to remove all medical support that now keeps a 101-year-old retired state worker alive in a permanent comatose condition. Their request has sparked renewed debate over the state's growing unfunded pension obligations, with some calling for an end to pensions entirely.
Alfonso Perez, who worked thirty years as a groundskeeper at the state capitol, has been in a coma for over forty years. He retired at age 60, but two years later suffered a catastrophic injury in a fall while pruning trees at home. He has been comatose since then. As a state worker, Perez received a [pension worth 60% of his salary upon retiring. With an average cost of living increase each year his monthly income now is twice his original monthly retirement check. In addition, as a member of the state retirees health insurance plan, most of his medical expenses are picked up by California.
The majority of medical experts who have examined Perez agree that he is unlikely to come out of the coma, or, if he does, he will not be able to see or hear. A small number of physicians oppose any effort to euthanize Perez, some holding out hope for his awakening while others object on moral grounds.
The California Taxpaye Alert Committee issued a statement as they filed their request with the court. "With the state's pension and retiree health benefit obligation now more than $ 400 billion and more than twice the annual state budget, any legitimate means of reducing that unfunded debt is welcome. In this case, the action requested is not only a benefit to the state but a blessing to the individual involved."
Perez has outlived his wife and all eight of his children, but the remaining descendants, who handle his financial affairs, are outraged by any effort to take away the nearly $ 10,000 monthly check he now receives as a retired employee. "Our Great Grandfather and his family are entitled to that check. We will fight every effort to euthanize him."
In response, a spokesman for the Alert Committee smirked: "Of course they want to keep him alive, as long as possible. He's their cash cow."
A decision by the court is expected shortly.