Having brought your attention to the Coble endorsement in the paper today, I am reminded that I meant to point out Cindi Scoppe’s column yesterday. It’s one of the many she has written over the years trying to call attention to the ridiculously generous pensions that South Carolina legislators receive:
If you assume that it’s OK for our part-time legislators to receive a pension — and I don’t, but let’s make the assumption for the sake of simplicity — there still are three problems with the way the special legislative pension system operates:
• Taxpayers subsidize legislative pensions at more than double the rate we subsidize regular employees’ pensions. For every dollar state legislators put into their system, taxpayers contribute $3.89; for every dollar most state employees contribute, the taxpayers contribute just $1.47.
The result is that, while no one is going to get rich off of a legislative pension, our part-time legislators can draw pensions that are actually larger than the ones received by the average full-time state employee who paid into the system for the same number of years.
• Legislators are allowed to keep purchasing credit in the system at that same super-subsidized rate even after they leave office — even if voters kicked them out of office.
This is not the same as the program that allows regular state employees to purchase credit for years they worked for other entities in the past, at high rates that will (appropriately) get higher under this legislation. That program also is open to legislators, whose rates likewise will go up — but rarely would legislators want to purchase prior credit, since they get that super deal on future credit.
• Legislators can elect to stop receiving their salaries and instead collect their pensions while they continue to serve — a benefit that because of that super-subsidy means they can collect a pension of as much as $33,000 instead of a salary of $10,400.
Those first two provisions are unique to the legislative pension system, and they are by far the most generous and most difficult to justify…
Cindi’s been at this for years. Lawmakers give lip service to wanting to do something about it, but somehow that never happens.