As Shift recently reported, according to an investigation launched by the Freedom Foundation, 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.
To be clear, the $5.1 million is the sum these convicts have received above their own retirement contributions. The Freedom Foundation’s Anne Marie Gurney states,
“We’re not talking about the money people had put into their own retirement accounts. We’re talking about former teachers who long ago exceeded their own contributions and, in some cases, have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest and taxpayer subsidies despite the fact that they’re either in jail now or served prison time at some point for work-related offenses.”
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.
The stunning results of the Freedom Foundation’s investigation prompted Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) to draft legislation addressing the problem. Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) is also working on a similar measure.
According to the Freedom Foundation, Sen. Bailey will propose two bills. The first bill “would require public employees convicted of a serious crime to forfeit a portion of their pension, but would also protect any dependents of that employee. The second bill “would require those public employees to use a portion of their pensions to off-set incarceration costs.” The bills, if passed, “would apply to new hires but could also be applied retroactively to current employees, too.”
As Shift reported, Kit Raney, President of the Washington Teacher’s Association-Retired, is not pleased with the prospect of any reforms made to the current teachers’ pension system. Raney called it a “non-issue” and promised to fight any legislation that sought to remedy the problem of convicted criminals—including child sex offenders—receiving hard earned taxpayer dollars.
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