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
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.
KPERS spokesperson Kristen Basso confirmed to KansasWatchdog the accuracy of USA Today’s calculations for Kansas legislators.
Kansas pension gap may more than double (kansasreporter.org)
Pension reform bill goes to Governor (kansasreporter.org)
Legislators’ KPERS calculation a ‘perk’ (hutchnews.com)