Boise, ID—On Friday, Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman praised members of the Citizens Commission on Legislative Compensation for voting to end a legislative pension perk that has enriched well-connected state lawmakers for decades.
“The Idaho Freedom Foundation sounded the alarm on this unethical scheme in 2010, and hasn’t stopped since, “Hoffman said. “Commission members deserve kudos for following IFF’s lead on this contentious issue. They righted a wrong.”
To get the politician pension payoff, a legislator must serve a long tenure as a part-time elected official, all the while accruing credit in Idaho’s government retirement program. Then, the legislator must win favor with the right people and take an appointment to a high-paying state job. After working just 42 months in that position, as state retirement rules require, the former lawmaker’s pension jumps by staggering amounts.
The commission’s change goes into effect July 1, 2019, meaning Gov.-elect Brad Little will still be able to boost the pension of appointed lawmakers as he begins selecting his cabinet.
Still, Thursday’s decision does much to limit the executive branch’s sway over state lawmakers.
“The perk has served as a compelling way for the governor to secure the loyalty of state lawmakers, who might be persuaded by the promise of the pension perk to act one way or another while still in the Legislature,” Hoffman said. “The commission’s decision helps to preserve our system of checks and balances, and eliminates the governor’s ability to reward lawmakers who serve the executive in the Statehouse.”
Hoffman urged further action on the issue, as the commission could reverse course at its next meeting in two years.
“Idaho Code still allows this practice, and lawmakers should align state law with the commission’s decision,” Hoffman suggested. “If lawmakers fail to act again, government watchdogs must keep a vigilant eye on the commission to ensure this obscene perk stays dead.”
Since 2010, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, one of Idaho’s most influential policy voices, has educated lawmakers and the public about the pension-spiking problem. The foundation created PensionPayoff.com to highlight the sky-high pension boosts of former lawmakers who were appointed to high-paying government jobs. Pension boosts of between 500 and 800 percent were common thanks to the perk.
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