Com­mis­sion votes to end law­mak­ers’ spe­cial pen­sion perk

The Idaho Statesman - - News -

An Idaho ci­ti­zens com­mis­sion voted to close a loop­hole through which long­time state law­mak­ers who work briefly in high­pay­ing state jobs at the end of their ca­reers get full life­time pen­sions as if they’d been full-time state em­ploy­ees all along.

The de­ci­sive vote came Thurs­day, the Idaho Press-Tri­bune re­ported.

Po­catello at­tor­ney and Com­mis­sion chair­man Reed Larsen noted that two years ago he said the re­tire­ment perk that law­mak­ers en­acted as a spe­cial ex­emp­tion only for them­selves in 1990 “didn’t pass the smell test.”

“I re­ally think this is some­thing that we need to re­solve,” he said.

The six-mem­ber com­mis­sion in­cludes three mem­bers ap­pointed by the gov­er­nor and three ap­pointed by the Idaho Supreme Court, mean­ing it rep­re­sents both the ex­ec­u­tive and ju­di­cial branches of Idaho’s gov­ern­ment.

The com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion holds un­less re­jected by the Leg­is­la­ture via con­cur­rent res­o­lu­tion. Such a move would need to hap­pen be­fore the 25th day of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

The de­ci­sion came at the end of a hear­ing at the state Capi­tol that stretched for more than four hours Thurs­day and also in­cluded a unan­i­mous vote to give state law­mak­ers 3 per­cent raises both next year, to $17,879 a year, and to $18,415 the fol­low­ing year.

The panel also voted to boost ex­pense re­im­burse­ments for law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing larger boosts for those who must travel es­pe­cially large leg­isla­tive dis­tricts; and it set ad­di­tional stipends for law­mak­ers who serve in top lead­er­ship posts in both par­ties. The panel also voted unan­i­mously to re­im­burse law­mak­ers only for econ­omy-class flights.

The com­mis­sion also voted to re­move ben­e­fits for law­mak­ers who “main­tain a sec­ond res­i­dence in Ada County” dur­ing the leg­isla­tive ses­sion, in­stead sim­ply tar­get­ing lodg­ing re­im­burse­ments to those whose pri­mary res­i­dence is more than 50 miles from the Capi­tol.

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