Pension plan veto

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy does not use his veto authority often, unsurprising since his Democratic Party controls both legislative chambers. But he has used it wisely in rejecting a bill that would have allowed municipal employees receiving pensions to double dip.

Under current law, retired municipal employees receiving pensions under the state-run Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) cannot keep receiving the pension if they get another job in a municipality covered by the MERS plan. The provision makes sense. The MERS plan well compensates municipal employees, some who qualify for the pension after as few as 20 years of service. There is no good reason to allow retirees to hop into new municipal jobs and pull down a salary in addition to the pension.

Existing law does allow a retiree to continue receiving a pension if he or she only works part-time for a municipality, defined as less than 20 hours a week or less than 90 days a year. That's reasonable.

The legislation blocked by Gov. Malloy - "An Act Concerning Reemployment and the MERS" - would have lifted the restriction entirely.

"I believe this bill would impose an undue burden on municipalities and is inconsistent with the purpose of the municipal retirement system, which is intended to provide assistance to our retirees not our current employees," Gov. Malloy wrote.

Admirably, Gov. Malloy bucked labor and fellow Democrats in rejecting the proposal.

While a product of the Democratic-controlled legislature, the bill, if signed into law, would have immediately benefitted a controversial Republican mayor, Joseph Maturo Jr. of East Haven, the Hartford Courant recently noted. It was Mayor Maturo who, on the January 2012 day that four of his police officers were federally indicted for abusive behavior toward Latinos, made the appallingly insensitive comment, "I might have tacos when I go home," after being asked by a TV reporter how he would make amends with the Latino community.

Mayor Maturo wants to collect his $40,000 MERS firefighter pension along with his $75,000 mayoral salary. He can't under the current law, the state comptroller has ruled.

We can only speculate that Maturo's case gave added impetus to the gubernatorial veto, but whatever Gov. Malloy's motivations, the decision was the right one.

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