Outsmarting the Taxpayers
I’m sure there are arguments that it’s financially efficient. That it preserves human capital. That it’s better than alternatives. But when all th talking is done, this is just outrageous:
They left the state college system in droves in recent months to avoid paying more for their health insurance or losing it entirely, and they left with thousands of dollars in retirement incentives and severance payments for things like unused sick time.
But now, 44 retirees from Rhode Island College, the Community College of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island are back on the state payroll — in many cases, back in their old jobs as professors, administrators, school nurses, accountants and computer technicians while collecting state-subsidized pensions.
State law permits class instructors to remain on an explicitly limited basis, but the others are leveraging this bit of specious reasoning:
When asked, however, how that law justified the rehiring of top-level administrators, back-office financial staff and computer techs — including one CCRI retiree with a $44,412 state pension — spokesman Steven J. Maurano offered up a new and previously unheard of argument in the halls of state government, after consulting with Ron Cavallaro, general counsel to the Board of Governors for Higher Education.
Maurano said Cavallaro believes the law limiting which retirees can be rehired — and how much they can earn without giving up their retirement benefits — applies only to those enrolled in the state retirement system, not the vast majority of newly retired state college and university faculty and administrators enrolled in the privately operated TIAA-CREF, to which the state contributes 9 percent of pay annually for each enrollee.
Under that reading, Maurano said, the administrators of the state college system can bring back whomever they want, for however long they want, at whatever level of pay they deem appropriate without any loss of retirement benefits.
Most Rhode Islanders, one shouldn’t have to explain, don’t ever get the option to retire with a large incentive check and in time to preserve unsustainable healthcare benefits on a public-sector-level pension and keep the very same job on a lighter basis to make up (or exceed) the difference in income. This asserted loophole should be closed immediately and all cases retroactively challenged in court.
At the very least, very tight time constraints ought to be placed on the retiree-temps so that the organizations for which they work can absorb as much institutional knowledge as possible. Then the public-sector kings should be let out to pasture so that Rhode Islanders suffering from the nation’s worst unemployment rate (and without pensions) can claim any positions that absolutely must be filled.