It pays to be a retiring lawmaker.
Several former legislators who either decided to not run for reelection or were defeated in elections are starting to put in for their pensions. Among them is former Rep. Babette Josephs, a Democrat from Philadelphia, who will receive an annual pension of $63,260 for her 28 years of House service.
Also cashing in: former state Sen. Jeff Piccola, of Dauphin County, who in addition to his yearly pension of $83,845, has taken a $211,855 lump sum payout for his 36 years of service in both the Senate and the House.
The information was made public after Rock the Capital, a government reform advocacy group, filed a Right-to-Know request with the State Employees' Retirement System. The group also found that former Democratic Rep. Ron Buxton, who represented the Harrisburg area, will rake in $66,603 annually for his 20 years in the legislature; and that Republican Rick Geist, of Blair County, will ge $64,742.16 for his 34 years in office, in addition to a lump-sum payment of $3,381.09 .
Said Eric Epstein, cofounder of Rock the Capital: "The people who created the pension time bomb are not interested in diffusing a crisis that pays them dividends. The pay outs are unsustainable, and serve to create a special class of retired, ruling class welfare recipients."
This comes at a time when Gov. Corbett has said that one of his top priorities will be to reign in the cost of public pensions. The administration has said it will unveil a plan by early next year to accomplish that goal, although officials have given few details.
Earlier this month, the administration released a detailed report warning of steep budget cuts if a way is not found swiftly to rein in public-pension spending. The 19-page report noted that in the current budget, the state's pension contributions are projected to hit $1.6 billion. In the coming fiscal year, that number will rise to just over $2.2 billion, a 45 percent increase. It will more than double to $5.1 billion by 2019-20 fiscal year.