Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Perry Double Dips Governor Salary and Pension Benefits
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a double-dipper, collecting a salary and retirement benefits simultaneously, according to a personal financial disclosure form made public Friday.
The report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows that Perry is collecting his $7,700 monthly state pension in addition to his nearly $133,000 annual salary as governor. State law allows any employee to begin collecting retirement benefits if their years of military and state service plus their age adds up to more than 80.
To qualify, the 61-year-old Perry counted his five years in the Air Force and 24 years in public service in Texas, including as a part-time legislator, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor.
Perry was required to file the disclosure form because he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
His decision to begin collecting retirement pay while on the public payroll will likely expose him to criticism from conservatives who complain that public sector employees are too generously compensated.
The Republican comptroller of Texas said just this week that lawmakers need to review the pension system because it was burdening state finances.
The Texas Democratic Party condemned Perry's decision.
"When you start getting more money from your employer while also continuing to receive your salary, that's called a raise," spokesman Anthony Gutierrez said. "If Perry wants retirement benefits he should do us all a favor and actually retire. Giving himself a raise while thousands of teachers are losing their jobs is unconscionable."
Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Perry's presidential campaign, issued a terse statement citing the state code that permitted the governor to begin collecting his retirement pay in January of this year.
Sullivan said Perry continues to pay into the state employees' retirement system with a 6.5 percent withholding from his salary.
On the disclosure form, Perry also reported a net worth of at least $1.3 million. The forms only require candidates to report the value of their personal assets in broad ranges, making it difficult to calculate an exact figure.
He reported a total annual income of $290,000. Perry listed his wife's salary of $65,000. Anita Perry is a consultant for a nonprofit organization.