Friday, July 25, 2008

Public pensions, Massachusetts style

Boston Globe: "Special pensions cost state millions - Among the winners are 6 ex-Pike managers expected to reap $3.7m in lifetime benefits"

State and local governments over the last five years have committed to spending an estimated $115 million to $235 million on 386 public employees who were allowed to invoke an obscure part of a state law to win earlier and significantly larger pensions, a Globe analysis has found.

At the financially troubled Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, for instance, six former employees, including high-level Big Dig managers who were in their 40s and 50s, have taken advantage of the law to reap a combined $3.7 million in pension and lifetime health insurance benefits beyond what they would receive under normal pension rules, an average of more than $610,000 each.
It sounds to me like the Boston Globe decided to investigate the graft exposed by their token conservative columnist:

Then there are all the other public employees milking the Massachusetts pension system. Dozens collect payouts of more than $100,000 a year - former state Senate president William Bulger, for example, rakes in more than $197,000, a fitting cap to a long career spent gorging at the public trough. Scores of "double-dippers" retire early on full pensions, then get themselves hired back on the public payroll at full salaries. When ex-Big Dig director Michael Lewis retired last year, his pension was tripled and became immediately payable under a nutty state law that rewards government employees whose positions are eliminated. For the rest of his life, Lewis will receive more than $72,500 annually, despite the fact that he is only 46, and is making $130,000 a year as Rhode Island's secretary of transportation.
Let's see: pensions, the Big there anything else we can add to the tax burden of the average Bay Stater?

At the heart of the problem is the state's estimate that subsidized Commonwealth Care coverage and Medicaid will cost the state at least $120 million more than projected.
Of course.

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