Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a Big Supporter of Generous Public Employee Pensions

For What Turns Out to be Rather Obvious Reasons

A consistent mantra of Conservatives is that public employees are bankrupting states and preventing them from giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy.  Front and center is the issue of public employee pensions.  These pensions are mostly defined benefit programs and provide retired public employees with a guaranteed retirement income for life.

In a surprise no one saw coming it turns out that Texas Gov. Rick Perry must be a big fan of public employee pensions, because he’s going to get a big one.  And the really neat thing is he doesn’t even have to retire to get it.

Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.

Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.

How does Mr. Perry defend his action of getting retirement pay and not retiring?

I don’t find that to be out of the ordinary,” Perry said. "ERS called me and said, 'Listen, you're eligible to access your retirement now with your military time and your time and service, and I think you would be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned.'”

One of the really neat things is that Conservatives like Mr. Perry who rail against government providing generous public employee benefits and government involvement in health care is that they have no problem when it comes to them personally.

Perry also is eligible for Social Security benefits and lifetime, state-provided health care.

Wow, lifetime state provided health care.  Who could have seen that coming.

The Perry issue does highlight an important issue.  Pensions were originally developed to provide income for persons when they retire, and when they are no longer able to work and make a living.  But pensions, particularly in government have become a source of income for working men and women, and this as much as there generosity have become a problem.  A simple rule that a person collects retirement income when they retire, a common sense approach that doesn’t seem all that radical is what is needed.

And once again let’s make certain we know who is at fault here.  It’s not public employees or public employee unions.  It’s elected officials of both parties and all political persuasions that have caused the problem of state and local fiscal shortfalls.

Mr. Perry has made a career being employed by government at all levels. He is not only a career politician, he is a career public employee (which is really ironic since the position of Conservatives including Mr. Perry is that government never, ever created a single job).  There does not seem to be any record of him ever arguing for pension reform or pension responsibility in Texas.  Now we know why.

No comments:

Post a Comment