Door to double-dipping barn closed

We were pleased to learn the Board of Examiners has had some second thoughts about handing out "double dipping" pensions to state employees, even though a few highly paid officials escaped before the barn door could be closed.

We fully expect more positions to be declared as having a "critical shortage," thus allowing the employees to retire, be rehired to the same job, and begin collecting both pay and pension.

But at least the Board of Examiners - comprising the governor, secretary of state and attorney general - needs to follow the process set out in law.

Let's review Assembly Bill 555 requirements:

"In determining whether a position is a position for which there is a critical labor shortage, the designating authority shall give consideration to:

a) The history of the rate of turnover for the position;

b) The number of openings for the position and the number of qualified candidates for those openings;

c) The length of time the position has been vacant; and

d) The success of recruiting persons in other states to fill the position."

The Board of Examiners did nothing of the sort in granting "critical shortages" in July for the position of Public Safety director and others, allowing a salary increase of as much as $70,000.

If someone had reason to take the issue to court, we can see no reason the Board of Examiners' decision wouldn't be ruled illegal. (Of course, the remedy would simply be to go back and do it the right way.)

There are good reasons those provisions were included in the law - to prevent someone from abusing the privilege of collecting both salary and pension, and to prevent cronyism from prevailing in government.

Remember, the Board of Examiners is the designating authority only for state government. Local governments, school districts and the board of regents overseeing the university system also have the power to designate "critical shortages."

If the people at the top don't follow the rules, why would they?


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