Favorite

One dip or two? 

State Rep. Allen Kerr, a Little Rock Republican, has blown the lid off a decade-old scheme in which elected county officials had figured out a way to draw both regular and retirement pay, with the public none the wiser.

In 1999, the legislature passed a law that allowed state employees to capture both retirement and regular pay. They could “retire” for 30 days and then reapply for the same job. If rehired — and they generally were — they could knock down two checks. This was sold as a way to boost state employee pay without cost to the state and to retain veteran employees. Because of abuse, the retirement period was extended by the legislature this year to 180 days.

Since computerized record-keeping began in 2001, more than 300 state employees have qualified to draw both regular and retirement pay. It is perfectly legal, even if the rehiring has generally been a sham competition. But elected county officials haven't been so pristine in capitalizing on the law.

A number of county elected officials — including three recent Garland County retirees — declared themselves retired by virtue of simply stopping county paychecks. And they did it secretly. They took steps to keep their taxpayer-subsidized insurance plans current, of course. They continued to work. When their statutory “retirement” period was up, the officials “rehired” themselves and began drawing two checks.

An attorney general's opinion sought by Rep. Kerr says retirement pay is allowed only on termination of employment. Termination would seem to mean a vacant office. The three Garland County officials never notified the Quorum Court of their “retirements.” They kept working, though, if retired, they were not legally authorized to do so.

What now? Kerr has the legislative audit division compiling a list of county elected officials who are drawing two checks. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has vowed to review the findings thoroughly. It's sensitive, because most county courthouses are run by politically-connected Democrats.

If the elected officials legally retired, the actions they took during “retirement” were illegal. If they did not legally retire, they should repay the retirement checks they received.

The legislature needs to erase the loophole that still exists for elected officials — who have the significant benefit of double-counting their years of service toward retirement. At a minimum, their “retirement” decisions must be announced before primary election season in May when they plan a return the following January. Voters should know a double-dip is in the works, if we are to keep the double-dipping system at all.

Kerr's effort is what loyal opposition to an entrenched political party is all about.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
  • Re: Where cities go from here

    • So Florida says he was wrong the first time and the second time he says…

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • Dee-lightful column - and wonderfully written comments.

    • on December 10, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation