Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Connecticut Pension Gravy Train

Judge Anthony Avallone

Recent judicial appointments by Connecticut’s Democrat Governor Dannell Malloy raised such an outcry that the State legislature quickly acted to amend the pension formula for the State’s judges. In particular, Malloy had nominated three sixty-six year old lawyers to the State Superior court. It was not the $154000 salaries that went with the job but the fact that the judges would be eligible for a pension of about $100000 per year when they retired at age 70 after only four years of service.

However, it would appear that the legislative action will only effect judges appointed after July I of this year so that Malloy’s current picks will still be on the gravy train. One of the lucky lawyers is Anthony Avallone of New Haven, a former State Senator and longtime member of the Democratic National Committee. He will receive a lifetime pension of $100000 per year with annual cost of living increases after only four years of work. When he retires in four years it will take about $2.5 million dollars for the State to fund his pension.

Moreover, at least 10 of the 36 judges appointed by Governor Malloy during his first term are over age 60. To put it simply, their combined pension income will eventually cost state taxpayer’s about $1,000,000 per year. At 4% interest it takes $25 million dollars to provide $1,000,000 of annual interest. How can the Governor ever expect to close the pension liability gap?

It is not only judges jumping on the Pension gravy train. State Senator Donald E. Williams is retiring this year after more than twenty years in the Legislature. He is the current Senate Majority leader. He is also the favorite to become the new President of Quinebaug Valley Community College despite having hardly any experience in the field of education. He has never taught and does not hold a PhD.

This is how the game works in Connecticut. As a State Senator Williams made only about $35000 per year since it is considered part-time employment. With twenty-two years in the Connecticut pension plan he would have been eligible to receive 44% of his $35000 salary at the normal retirement age. His pension benefit would have been about $15000 per year. However, if he gets the Presidency of Quinebaug, his State pension would then be based on his new six-figure salary. If he stays on the job for just three years his state pension benefit will more than triple. The college is doing a search and Senator Williams is one of the three finalists. Given his Democrat connections, it would be a miracle if he didn’t get the job.

Williams is one of about a dozen State legislators that Governor Malloy has provided for in his first term in office. The Governor has added so much unfunded liability to the State Pension plan during his tenure that it will be interesting to see if he makes the State’s large unfunded pension liability an issue in this election year.

Look how easy it was to change the pension formula for new State judges. In response to the public outcry the Democrat controlled legislature took just a couple of hours on the last day of the session to amend the formula. In the previous four years the Governor and his cronies did absolutely nothing to deal with this glaring injustice.

The Democrats might also have to be careful in raising the income inequality issue. In Blue State Connecticut all citizens are equal but some are obviously more equal than others.


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