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Governor Says He’s Stumped By Ex-Legislator Pension Padding System Lets Former Lawmakers Gain From Added State Employment

Gov. Phil Batt has had a lot of success in his first 2-1/2 years in office, but admits he’s run into an issue he can’t do anything about.

When he took office in 1995, he promised to do something about a system that allows state legislators to take high-paying state jobs for a few years after their legislative service to qualify for a pension on the same basis as if they had worked full time for the state for many years.

State accountants say that means the ex-legislators get a much bigger pension than they have funded with payments into the Public Employees Retirement System fund, and other members of the system have to make up the difference.

It’s been a sore point with Batt. When he served in the Idaho Senate, he got lawmakers to change the system in the 1980s. But when he left the Legislature, members reinstated the perk.

Batt tried again when he became governor.

He acknowledged Friday during taping of KTVB’s “Viewpoint” program to be telecast Sunday that he’s licked.

“I put my best effort into trying to get it past the Legislature again,” Batt said. “I tried to get them to remove legislators two sessions ago, and they wouldn’t do it.

“Some things you just beat your head against the wall, and can’t get done.”