Texas Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have pulled something of a fast one on his state's taxpayers by officially "retiring" earlier this year so that he could begin collecting an annual pension of $92,376 at the same time as he continues to draw his $150,000 a year salary as governor.
The arrangement went into effect last January but became public knowledge only this week, when Perry's presidential campaign filed the personal financial disclosure statement after having previously received two successive delays.
Perry was asked about the payments during a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday and replied, "That’s been in place for decades ... I don’t find that to be out of the ordinary. [The Employee Retirement System] called me and said, 'Listen you're eligible to access your retirement now with your military time and your time and service, and I think you would be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned.'”
As explained by the Austin Statesman, Texas law allows state employees to take retirement once their age plus their years of service add up to 80. The 61 year old Perry has held one position or another with the state since he was employed as agricultural commissioner in 1991, and he filed to start receiving his annuity last January.
Perry continues to pay 6.5% of his salary as governor into the Employees Retirement System, which will further increase his retirement payment once his term ends in 2015. He will also be eligible for lifetime health care at state expense, as well as Social Security benefits.
The payments certainly appear to be legal but could prove embarrassing for the governor, who has complained about entitlement programs and has proposed a partial privatization of Social Security as part of his presidential campaign.
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr