Kansas Legislators Work Part-Time to Gain Full-Time Pensions

Legislators in Kansas can work a few months out of the summer for a very small salary while still receiving massive pension contributions. Since the pensions these legislators gain do not necessarily reflect their usual salary, the state needs to chip in more and more to keep the program running.

The Kansas City Star has more on the topic:

“Legislators,” notes an employee benefit sheet explaining the pension plan to new lawmakers, “have a special deal here.”

They get a modest salary for the roughly four months they spend each year in Topeka, but their pensions grow as if the state paid them for a year-round gig.

All told, a salary shy of $15,000 makes a lawmaker eligible for a pension that any teacher, road worker, prison employee or Kansas bureaucrat could qualify for only if their actual pay ran north of $90,000.

“It’s not fair or appropriate,” said Rebecca Proctor, the executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, a union representing 8,000 workers.

She was a member of a Kansas Public Employees Retirement System study commission that in 2011 suggested changing the system for legislators. The Legislature never acted on that recommendation.

Instead, she said, lawmakers have attempted to shore up KPERS by increasing contributions required of regular state employees. In addition, some legislators have floated proposals limiting whether those workers could count unused vacation and sick time toward their pension benefits.

“It’s hypocritical,” Proctor said.

To be sure, members of the House and Senate must pay into the kitty, 6 percent of the supposed salary on which their pensions are calculated. But it’s such a good deal that few pass it up.

Taxpayers typically pay about twice an employee’s contribution toward the pension. So the more legislators sign up for, the more the state also must chip in.

For more about the policy,­ read the full article here.

 

 

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