MARCH 27, 2008
While many states have laws prohibiting elected officials and public employees from returning to government work while drawing taxpayer-financed pensions, an epidemic of it exists in Florida where taxpayers are financing the lucrative salaries and multiple pensions of more than a thousand public servants.
Known as double and triple-dipping the practice is rampant in the Sunshine State where more than 1,200 former state employees collect two or more pensions and hundreds more collect at least two pensions and a salary. Nearly 200 of them get paid more than $100,000 a year on top of public retirement benefits of up to $14,000 a month. Many of them also collect a lump-sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars upon retirement.
The triple dippers include public school principals, teachers, law enforcement officers, health department employees, court clerks and dozens of other public employees throughout the state. Additionally, more than 200 elected officials and senior managers who have quietly retired actually continue working, many in the same job where they earned their pension.
Because many state lawmakers benefit from this outrageous system, they aren’t motivated to pass legislation to stop it. Many other states have made it illegal to take any public sector job in the same retirement system without forfeiting retirement benefits. In New York, for instance, public employees who retire and return to government work must forfeit their pensions during the time they get a salary.
There is little hope that a similar law will pass in Florida, according to one Republican legislator who says “it’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle” because there are more “double dippers in the legislature” than anyone thought. He called the situation a mess.
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