Friday, September 23, 2011

How state legislators pad their pensions

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Interesting article in USA Today on the ways in which state legislators around the country have found ways to inflate their pensions, often without notice by the taxpaying public.

I'm surprised Arkansas legislators missed the trick (or, who knows, maybe some didn't) of using retirement multipliers for years of experience that allow many state legislators to retire on the job at benefits significantly higher than the jobs actually pay. Arkansas no longer extends a multiplier to legislators, but the lucky among them still can move to higher paying state jobs and use that higher salary figure as the base for future state retirement benefits. Some are paid $100,000 or more, a better starting point for a pension than $15,000. This practice is popular around the country.

"It's legal corruption," says Bill Zettler of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America. At least 42 of 139 Illinois legislators retiring since 2000 have boosted their legislative pensions by taking higher-paying government jobs, USA TODAY found.

I'm surprised the article didn't mention Arkansas's practice of inflating salaries beyond constitutional limits with pay supplements disguised as expense payments. In some other states, lawmakers have deemed the "expense" payments part of the compensation on which pensions may be based. Please: Nobody mention this out at the Capitol.

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