A state lawmaker says it's time to end the practice that allows a public employee to retire, collect a pension, then go back to working the same job again for pay. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, Republican Representative Rex Damshroder says now is the time to put an end to that.
RD: I first discovered this bill back in January when I started working on it. A local county official retired and was rehired the following Monday, collecting his retirement and hired right back on. And this was immediately put on the front page of the local newspaper. And I had several constituents call me and say “hey this is wrong, it’s just flat out wrong.” It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. We can’t retire then rehire in the private sector so you kind of wonder why we are doing this in the public sector and I think they are doing it because they can.
JI: But the school districts/the cities, they say this saves money?
RD: Well they say it saves money but every dollar that goes into that system comes from the taxpayer ultimately. And every time somebody does retire/rehire, or what’s known as double dipping, they are taking a job away from somebody else. You add up the money, it’s costing the state into the billions of dollars every year because of the large number of people who are doing it. Now if you are one of the people taking advantage of this, you are going to say it’s a great program. And it is for those people who can use it. But for the 90% of people who can’t use it, they are paying extra. And like I say, every person that is retired/rehired is taking a job away from somebody else, it’s costing us two jobs.
JI: Do you hear that from a lot of people who say I’d like to move up the ladder but I can’t because this person retired and was rehired?
RD: Sure and the school systems say gee they have experience. Well how do you think people get experience? It’s getting those jobs and building up that experience. The state just can’t afford to pay a retirement and a salary at the same time. Retirement is just what it says–it’s for when you retire. If you are retired, I’m working hard to make sure every employee has a valid retirement. The situation is unsustainable as it is. This is a mighty big hole that we have to plug.
JI: But there seems to be a reluctance among the legislature, among lawmakers, to actually look at this issue of retire/rehire. Why is that?
RD: Well there are several, maybe in the teens, number of lawmakers who are taking advantage of this. And I don’t fault anybody statewide for following the law and that’s exactly what they were doing – following the law. But the law has to be changed and it’s the legislators fault if we don’t get out there and change the law to make it a sustainable retirement system.
Damshroder says he doesn't want to prevent part time or substitute teachers, for example, who've retired from the system from going back to help out in those cases. He says reasonable exceptions can be made in order to allow workers to work on a limited basis in schools after retirement if their expertise is greatly needed.