Editorials

Abuse office? Limit pension

While on the topic of pension reform, the General Assembly needs to take a closer look at stripping retirement benefits from people who have abused their public positions.

Members of Congress may lose their pensions if convicted of treason, election crimes, corruption or misconduct in office. Many states, including Kentucky, have laws that address this, but they vary widely.

In Kentucky, a person must be convicted of a felony related to the public job before a pension is forfeited. The felon keeps the portion he or she contributed to the pension fund and accrued interest but is stripped of the public match.

Other states pull the entire pension when someone is convicted of any crime related to public duties.

The concept is simple: People drummed out of office for abusing their public positions by stealing or worse should not enjoy a comfortable retirement income thanks to the public position they violated.

But the details are complex: What about people guilty of serious ethics violations but not convicted of felonies? Or those who agree to resign to avoid prosecution?

The General Assembly should direct the Legislative Research Commission to study the effectiveness of Kentucky's law and of those elsewhere to assure Kentucky taxholders aren't rewarding people who abuse their offices.

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