Legislator’s retirement party

November 21st, 2008 by Ken

With the recent election of Sandra Romero to the Thurston County Commission, we will soon have two former state representatives serving the people of Thurston County.

This, in itself isn’t bad.  Not all county commissioners have been former state legislators, and sometimes they even do a good job – – current commissioners not withstanding.

What’s troubling is the fact that these two former state representatives have an opportunity to appoint someone to the fill the vacancy on the commission left by the resignation of Bob McLeod.

And, one of those mentioned as a possible candidate is current state representative Brendan Williams, who has voiced his displeasure in being a state representative and may want to be a county commissioner.

Here’s the problem with the Thurston County Commission becoming a legislator’s retirement party.  Some, if not all, of our legislators, see serving on a county commission as an opportunity to raise their retirement income.

State legislators, as well as county commissioners, are under the state retirement system.  Most elected officials in Washington state are members of the state retirement system.

Legislators can serve for one term, or for a decade, but they all fall under the retirement system.  The problem is the fact that state legislators don’t make much money.  Currently it’s around $35,000 a year.  While they get other perks, these don’t county towards retirement.

So retiring, as a state legislator doesn’t really give one a decent retirement income.  But, serve a couple of years as a county commissioner at $100,000 a year, and your retirement income really, really climbs.

That’s why former state legislators want to be county commissioners.  They can boost their retirement pay with as little as two years on the county commission.

In their final years many  state legislators get appointed to state boards and commissions,  which boost their retirement.  But if they can’t get a governor’s appointment to these high paying cush jobs, they can always run for county commissioner in their home areas and boost their retirement that way.

If I were a state worker I’d be screaming bloody murder over this raiding of the retirement system.  Someone should run an initiative campaign to take all elected officials out of the state retirement system. 

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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