A new report released by the Idaho Freedom Foundation highlights a pension scheme for legislators that can enrich politicians-turned-bureaucrats.
The Politician Pension Payoff is a loophole written by the Idaho Legislature in the early 1990s. This pension payoff lets politicians morph their part-time service in the Capitol into full-time pension credit after working for 42 months at a high-paying state job.
The new IFF report details just how much the scheme costs taxpayers. Using approved actuarial methods, Freedom Foundation researchers Tiffany Stevens and Annsley Brophy calculate that former Sen. Dean Cameron, appointed by Gov. Butch Otter last year to serve as the Department of Insurance director, could boost his lifetime pension total from a projected $164,338 to more than $1.03 million, a 631 percent increase.
Tuesday, Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum criticized the financial sweetheart arrangement.
“This troubling loophole, written by legislators for legislators, is the type of scheme that undermines public confidence in government” Birnbaum said. “This arrangement can give the executive branch extra sway over the legislative branch of government, which violates the notion of checks and balances.”
IFF researcher Tiffany Stevens echoed Birnbaum.
“After studying these figures, I understand why lawmakers lack the political will to end this lucrative scheme,” she said. “I only hope lawmakers soon summon the courage to do the right thing and end this self-serving pension law.”
Lawmakers could have ended the Politician Pension Payoffs in 2015, but Sen. Brent Hill of Rexburg stuck the reform legislation in a favored committee, where it died a quiet and unremarkable death.