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Kansas Legislator Pensions Inflated More Than Ten Fold

By   /   September 28, 2011  /   No Comments

Source: USA Today. Click for full interactive graphic at USAToday.com

The average Kansas legislator with 20 years in the Capitol as of 2011 is eligible for a $29,162 annual pension if he retires at the end of this year. That’s more than ten times what he would receive if the pension was calculated just on salary.

A recent report in USA Today shows that state legislators in most states inflate their pensions by basing pensions on a higher percentage of salary, adding expenses to salaries or using some other inflationary calculation.

Only 11 states offer no legislative pension or the same plan as other state employees.

A May KansasReporter.org story said that Kansas legislators get credit for working 372 days a year.

Although Kansas legislators work part time and are paid only during the 90 legislative session and days their committees meet outside that window, lawmakers who choose to join the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) pay their contributions into the system as if they worked every single calendar day of the year plus one more week

Legislators are the only classification of Kansas public employee that can draw down benefits based on a annualized salary.

Kansas Legislator example

Salary: $7,979

Inflation #1: Based on 372 day year = $32,982

Inglation #2: Include $123 per diem (also for 372 days) = $45,756

Inflation #3: Include payments for expenses while not in session = $7,083

Total salary for pension calculation: $83,216

Government employees enrolled in KPERS and hired before July 1, 2009, make a 4 percent employee contribution. State employees hired after that date contribute 6 percent.

Legislators’ make the same percentage contribution but it is based on their annualized total pay and expenses of $83,216. The contribution is 42 or 65 percent of their actual $7,979 annual base pay only.

KPERS is currently reported to have an $8.3 billion gap between what’s been promised to the 260,000 active, inactive and retired state workers through 2033 and the projected resources it will have to pay those benefits. A special commission has been created to find ways to close the gap.

The $8.3 billion gap is expected to more than double under new pension reporting rules likely to take effect by 2014.

USA Today’s story is here. Legislative pensions state-by-state is here.

KPERS spokesperson Kristen Basso confirmed to KansasWatchdog the accuracy of USA Today’s calculations for Kansas legislators.

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Related:

Lawmaker retirement benefits use 372 day calendar (kansasreporter.org)

Kansas pension gap may more than double (kansasreporter.org)

Pension reform bill goes to Governor (kansasreporter.org)

Legislators’ KPERS calculation a ‘perk’ (hutchnews.com)

Click here to LEARN HOW TO STEAL OUR STUFF!

During his 28-year journalism career Soutar worked for the Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Knight Ridder Newspapers in Washington, D.C. From 1990 to 2008 he worked for the Wichita Eagle as a photo and graphics editor, producing special sections and writing stories on various subjects. He has received numerous international, national and regional journalism and design awards. Before his journalism career Soutar served in the U.S. Navy photographing and writing about events in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

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