A Pension Perk for Political Appointees

Bills would increase monthly payments to political appointees who retire this year

Two state Democratic politicians have introduced bills that would increase monthly pension payments by 16.7 percent for certain "political appointees" who retire this year.

State Representative George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, and State Senator Gilda Jacobs, D-Huntington Woods, introduced the legislation in late September.  Cushingberry introduced House Bill 6512 and Jacobs introduced Senate Bill 1500. Both didn't respond to e-mails and phone messages seeking comment.

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Neither bill has been brought up for a vote, and one GOP state representative said the House version has no chance of passing.

"They are dead on arrival," said State Represeantative Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. "I'm totally against that. I have no idea why it was introduced. I think it is an inside deal. They put it in for some friends."

The legislation would require that the political appointees would need to have age and years of government employment that add up to at least 75. So 15 years on the government payroll at age 60 would qualify for the increased pension if the person retired this year.

"Had we spent the last six years rightsizing Michigan's government for today's economic realities and focused attention like this on creating a better job environment for Michigan workers, then perhaps debating increased benefits for political appointees would make sense," wrote State Representative John Proos, R-St. Joseph, in an e-mail. "I don't know that it ever makes sense to increase salary and benefits for legislators or political appointees at a time like this. In this case, and in any other case that I can think of, sweetening the pot for political appointees is disrespectful to those unemployed and under employed in our state. This points out the concerns the public should show for a lame-duck legislative session."

Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, uncovered the increased perks in the legislation.

"The current and past bills expose how governments in this state are run by one, big, interconnected and bipartisan network of political careerists who protect their own interests by taking care of each other, and by serving the system over the people," McHugh wrote in an e-mail. "If the bills are 'dead on arrival' (we'll see; lawmakers often get bold in lame duck sessions with two years before the next election), it's because the political headwinds are just too strong this year."

McHugh said that similar bills were passed in 1998 and 2002

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See also:

House Votes to Temporarily Trim Legislative Employee Benefits
Public Payrolls and Political Workers
Public Salary Database Puts Political Work of State Employee Under Scrutiny
Senators refuse to stand up to state workers' perks