This is what happens when you poke around Legistorm, a site that posts the financials of our elected officials in Washington.
Rep. Vern Ehlers last year made $38,683 on his state of Michigan pension – another $2,007 on his pension from Kent County, and another $4,785 from a state of California pension (we believe that comes from a teaching gig he had at UC Berkeley).
His pension from the state of Michigan in 2007 was $37,195. So we apparently gave him a raise. In 2002, it was $29, 296. He’s gotten a 32 percent raise in seven years. In Kent County, it went from $1,911 to $2,007 over that period, a paltry 5 percent raise.
Rep. Dale Kildee reported $23,740 last year on his Michigan Legislative pension. In 2002, it was $18, 763 - the jump is 26 percent.
For Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, she made $53,498 for her legislative pension compared to $42,280 in 2003, also a 26 percent bump.
Rep. Candice Miller reports that her spouse draws a salary from both the state of Michigan and Macomb County, as well as a pension from the state of Michigan.
The qualifications are difficult to find even in this age of transparency. From a financial audit of the legislative retirement system in 2001, we found this:
“A member may retire and receive retirement benefits based on age and service after: (1) attaining age 50, if age and years of credited service combined are equal to or greater than 70; or (2) attaining age
55 with 5 or more years of credited service if elected, qualified, and seated not less than (a) 3 full or partial terms in the House of Representatives, (b) 2 full or partial terms in the Senate, or (c) 1 term in the House of Representatives and 1 term in the Senate. For those legislators who first became members on or before
January 1, 1995, the retirement benefit is calculated by multiplying 20% of a member's highest salary earned for the first 5 years of service, plus 4% of the member's highest salary for each of the next 11 years of service, plus 1% of the member's highest salary for each additional year.
For those legislators who first became members after January 1, 1995, the retirement benefit is calculated by multiplying 3% of the highest salary for each year of service.”
And this speaks to those massive increases in benefit pay:
“For those legislators who first became members on or before January 1, 1995, the annual retirement benefit payable to a retiree or a retiree's survivor is increased by 4% compounded annually. The
adjustment is effective each January 1. For those legislators who first became members after January 1, 1995, the annual retirement benefit payable to a retiree or a retiree's survivor is increased by 4%, but is not compounded annually. The adjustment is effective each January 1.”
This is stuff that voters should know and, if appropriately incensed, make noise about. It’s been covered before, and no one has mustered enough outrage to change things. One more reason bureaucrats dislike transparency.