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.

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Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

Aligning the commencement of pension payments with Social Security eligibility age would fix this in one fell swoop.

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

Oh for heavens sake, I am sick and tired of this crap excuse given by YAIE (Yet Another Idiot Educator) that the level of service would suffer if those 44 people weren’t allowed to come back. IS HE FREAKIN’ KIDDIN’ ME?!?!?
Does anyone in this state really think that ANY of the presently enrolled students are going to suffer academically if those overpaid PENSIONED retirees weren’t there? Haven’t we all had some teaching staff quit or be replaced during our elementary, high school, secondary school or college schooling? Is there any of us who can say our lives suffered because a teacher left a position where we were a student or benefactor of their graces?
We have got to be the most retarded, the most inbred, stupid, double wide trailered people in the entire world to put up with garbage like this.
If WE ALL don’t send some firey, tasty, salty letters to each and every one of those institutions that rehired the staff of 44 then we might as well go out to pasture and graze with the rest of the sheep.
What else can we do, huh? Oh wait, some of the IDIOTS in this state did vote for Paiva-Weed, Connors, Levesque, DuPonte, and the like. You are excused from being outraged, you are too STUPID to be upset.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Let me understand this, Justin and Tom W are against the public Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island because it is a defined benefit system and after an employee works 38 years and contributes anywhere from 8.75% to 9.5% of their pay (which the state is suppose to match) each year that employee can retire at maximum 75% of pay. Any amount of years vested below 38 years there is a reduction in pension percentage. Under the new rules a public school teacher or state employee can collect a reduced benefits pension at age 59 with 29 years vested or age 65 with 10 years vested. Age 55 can collect a reduced benefits pension with 20 years vested. The common argument I hear is that there is “no risk” as in the private sector and the state employees, public school teachers, police and fire and municipal employees should be moved to a 401K plan in the private sector so they might inherit risk as in the private sector. The major risk is the state not putting in its matching funds thus undermining the retirement system. Now we have the state trying to balance the budget and the Board of Governors for Higher Education offering incentive payments for college personnel to retire in some cases early which reduces their individual pensions (also as they retire, state raises that were withheld during Gov. Sunderland to balance budget must be paid per agreement). Their retirement system is a private commercial system called Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF). The state pays in a matching 9% (The state must pay its matching share to a private retirement system). They are not part of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island they are part of a private pension system so… Read more »

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

“As for hiring 44 of them back part timer (19 hours a week or more) with no benefits, it’s a lot cheaper than continuing to employ them at full salary with benefits. It’s a lot cheaper than bring in new blood that has a 90 day startup risk and full benefits payment plus maybe higher wage requirements. Do the math!”
Are you thus saying that these education institutions could never hire new staff because of the startup risk? There’s startup risk with every new hire so why should this fact be given any weight in rehiring old workhands?
Wouldn’t you agree that there would have been a review of these positions to see if they were really needed at all?
Wouldn’t it seem plausible that those 44 people knew about the loophole WELL before the early retirement cutoff date? and that they were probably ADVISED on how to take advantage of this loophole?
Furthermore, wouldn’t it be of great discriminatory interest to know that they were DIRECTED to take advantage of this loophole thus blocking any advancement to the careers of junior staff members? Wouldn’t that make a great EEOC lawsuit?

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

“As for hiring 44 of them back part timer (19 hours a week or more) with no benefits, it’s a lot cheaper than continuing to employ them at full salary with benefits. It’s a lot cheaper than bring in new blood that has a 90 day startup risk and full benefits payment plus maybe higher wage requirements. Do the math!”
Are you thus saying that these education institutions could never hire new staff because of the startup risk? There’s startup risk with every new hire so why should this fact be given any weight in rehiring old workhands?
Wouldn’t you agree that there would have been a review of these positions to see if they were really needed at all?
Wouldn’t it seem plausible that those 44 people knew about the loophole WELL before the early retirement cutoff date? and that they were probably ADVISED on how to take advantage of this loophole?
Furthermore, wouldn’t it be of great discriminatory interest to know that they were DIRECTED to take advantage of this loophole thus blocking any advancement to the careers of junior staff members? Wouldn’t that make a great EEOC lawsuit on the basis of a purported scheme to manipulate advancement opportunities for those junior members?
Maybe the ACLU could actually prove to be of value in this matter. Oh, nevermind about the ACLU part. They only go for unAmerican activities.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Roland, There had to be a review in order to determine asking theses specific 44 employees back part time. My understanding is most of them were brought back as Adjunct Professors in their respective fields. Can you tell me how many unemployed Adjunct Professors are walking the streets of RI? As for the computer employees, in my opinion, PeopleSoft software database is a nightmare to be involved with and requires trained personnel. So I can see retaining the PeopleSoft computer trained personnel as part timers. Many a state has dropped PeopleSoft and saved enormous amounts of money after dropping it. I’m surprised RI was using PeopleSoft! The startup risk is minimal with these 44 employees coming back as part timers because of the pervious on the job knowledge, internal routines and procedural understandings. I think it was a smart RI management money saving decision for a change. The end result is RI got rid of salaried employees and their benefits payments and got them back at hourly part time rates without benefit payment overhead or a “fixed contract”. Roland are you suggesting in public and in writing that all the retirees and particularly these specifically “44 people knew about the loophole WELL before the early retirement cutoff date? and that they were probably ADVISED on how to take advantage of this loophole? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be of great discriminatory interest to know that they were DIRECTED to take advantage of this loophole thus blocking any advancement to the careers of junior staff members? Wouldn’t that make a great EEOC lawsuit on the basis of a purported scheme to manipulate advancement opportunities for those junior members? Maybe the ACLU could actually prove to be of value in this matter. Oh, nevermind about the ACLU part. They only go for unAmerican activities.”… Read more »

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

Ken, what I am suggesting is that there is something amiss in the rehire status of these 44 people. The whole point of the early retirement was to reduce the financial burden to the state and not backfill these jobs. Instead, someone took it upon themselves, to go ahead and backfill these positions with the very same people that previously occupied them.
I do not know your contribution to the EEOC laws but I do remember from decades back that they were in place to create a ‘fair’ path for promotion within a work environment regardless of race, creed, culture, etc, etc, etc,…
First, these jobs should NOT have been backfilled thus saving the state millions. But if there were an impending need to fill those slots, then they should have been offered to internal employees first.
Which EEOC laws have been violated? Beats the heck out of me. AR and Projo aren’t making a big deal out of this because this type of cocky behaviour seems to run rampant in the one-party governed state and it’ll continue until people finally smarten up. I’m just your average Joe that’s fed up with business as usual in this state.
I would like Maurano to answer this one question: Why was it THOSE 44 employees?

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

Even the federal gov’t stopped doing this a while ago.
What exactly did we accomplish by encouraging these forty four retirements?

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Monique,
According to PROJO quote from “The spokesman for the state Office of Higher Education, Steven Maurano; Steven Maurano said;. “Even after deducting the millions in severance payments and the $377,000 paid this past semester to the select retirees who were rehired, he said the colleges could still save $11.4 million annually by leaving all of their current vacancies unfilled.”
Gov Carcieri asked for budget cuts and Office of Higher Education responded with an $11.4 million annual cut still maintaining services.

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