Shift recently reported on an investigation launched by the Freedom Foundation that revealed 22 former teachers, most convicted of crimes against children, are currently receiving taxpayer dollars from traditional pension plans. Altogether, these teachers have “received about $5.1 million above their own retirement contributions, interest included as of the end of 2014.” That’s an average of $236,027.95 per person.
To be clear, the $5.1 million is the sum these convicts have received above their own retirement contributions.
The story has since garnered national attention, as it deserves. Fox News recently reported on one particular rapist receiving taxpayer dollars,
“Laurence Hill is a convicted rapist. His victims were 10- and 11-year-old girls he taught in a Seattle school. He served five years in prison for his crimes, and the Seattle School District paid his victims a $3 million settlement.
“And yet, Hill has never missed a monthly pension paycheck. So far, he’s collected $208,000 more from a state taxpayer-funded pension than he put into the system before getting fired. “
The appalling findings are a result of Washington State’s labor laws. Currently, Washington does not have a pension forfeiture law that requires “public employees and/or elected officials convicted of a crime lose at least some aspect of their taxpayer funded retirements.” At least 25 states, including Alaska, California, and Arizona, have pension forfeiture laws.
As Shift reported, the Freedom Foundation’s investigation prompted Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) to draft legislation (Senate Bill 6077) addressing the problem. The bill received its first public hearing in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means yesterday.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the notion that felons convicted of egregious crimes against children should not continue receiving pensions at taxpayers’ expense. Kit Raney, President of the Washington Teacher’s Association-Retired, called the scandal a “non-issue” and vowed to fight any legislation that sought to remedy the problem.
According to Fox News, the Washington Education Association (WEA) has defended the current teacher pension payments system. The WEA argues that the “criminal justice system should have no bearing on a public employee’s retirement benefits.”
Fox News rightfully points out that Sen. Bailey’s bill “faces an uphill climb” due to the “enormous political clout” the WEA has on Democrat lawmakers—a fact that Shift has pointed out time and time again.