If former House Speaker Lawerence Denney were to serve one four-year term as Secretary of State after his many years of legislative service, his state retirement pension, for life, would rise from roughly $500 a month to more than $3,600 a month. That’s because the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho sets retirement pensions based on the highest-paid 42 months of state employment – and state legislators, who now make a little over $16,000 a year, who move up to higher-paid, year-round jobs at the end of their careers can count all those lower-paid years of legislative service for retirement. The current salary for the Idaho Secretary of State, by law, is $99,450 a year.
Then-Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, proposed legislation in 2012 to end that pension-boosting perk for state legislators, saying legislative service should be counted only as part-time employment in retirement calculations, but it was blocked by then-Speaker Denney. Lake retired from the Legislature after that year’s session.
Denney, 65, wouldn’t be the first to take advantage of the perk, which has boosted the retirement of every longtime state lawmaker who ended his or her career in a higher-paid, full-time state job. Denney’s announcement today, however, brings new attention to the perk; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.