Public employees who commit a crime do not lose their retirement benefits, which are guaranteed by taxpayers, in Washington State. More, teachers earn the right to a lifetime retirement after working as little as five years.
According to a King 5 investigation, there are 22 former teachers, most convicted of crimes against children, who 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.
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. Republicans in the state Senate plan to propose a pension forfeiture law during next legislative session.
However common-sense pension forfeiture laws sound (commit a crime, lose privileges paid for by taxpayers), not all agree with the concept. Kit Raney, President of the Washington Teacher’s Association-Retired, told King 5 that she would “fight” it. Any pension forfeiture law “would be met with by lot of resistance.”
Raney called payments worth $5.1 million of law-abiding taxpayers’ hard earned dollars to convicted criminals a “non-issue.” She went on to inform King 5 that she does not believe teachers should lose their pensions “under any circumstance.”
In the end, this story is yet another example of just how out-of-touch special interests groups—all too often supported by Democrats—in our state have become.