|Ohio Lawmakers Exempted From State Pension Reform Measure|
"Double dipping" is shorthand for a practice that is common in state government -- a person retires to collect their state pension but doesn't leave government work. A double dipper is a worker who gets both a pension and a paycheck from OPERS (public employees) or STRS (teachers) or the other state pension systems. About 32,000 public employees in Ohio who are still working in government jobs collected more than $1 billion in state pension checks last year. They are the double dippers. And Damschroder's boss in the Ohio House is Speaker Bill Batchelder, a double dipper from Medina County who gets a $90,000-plus legislative salary along with a $100,000 a year state pension.
The caption on Damschroder's bill on the legislative website reads like double dipping is going to be ended for all:
"H. B. No. 388-Representative Damschroder.
Cosponsors: Representatives Thompson, Pelanda.
To amend sections 145.01, 145.191, 145.38, 145.384, 145.471, 145.473,
145.58, 145.82, 742.26, 3307.35, 3307.352, 3309.341, 3309.344, and 3501.13;
to enact sections 145.386, 742.261, 3307.354, and 3309.346; and to repeal
section 5505.161 of the Revised Code to suspend, during the period of
employment, the retirement benefit of a public retirement system retiree who
returns to public employment."
But the actual wording of HB 388 specifies the ban applies only to workers and not anyone holding an elected office, i.e. members of the Ohio General Assembly. (The Daily Bellwether has enlarged the key words granting the exemption.):
c. 145.01. As used in this chapter:
(A) "Public employee" means:
(1) Any person holding an office, not elective, under the state or any county, township, municipal corporation, park district, conservancy district, sanitary district, health district, metropolitan housing authority, state retirement board, Ohio historical society, public library, county law library, union cemetery, joint hospital, institutional commissary, state university, or board, bureau, commission, council, committee, authority, or administrative body as the same are, or have been, created by action of the general assembly or by the legislative authority of any of the units of local government named in division (A)(1) of this section, or employed and paid in whole or in part by the state or any of the authorities named in division (A)(1) of this section in any capacity not covered by section 742.01, 3307.01, 3309.01, or 5505.01 of the Revised Code.
There are arguments in support of double-dipping, and attempts to eliminate the practice have flopped over the years. School systems and local governments contend experienced employees -- especially superintendents and principals -- can be difficult to find and hire. Sometimes re-hiring a retired worker is less costly. And workers who collect their pension while staying on the job argue the money is theirs -- they paid into the state pension system for years and ought to be able to collect what's coming.
[UPDATE 1:10 p.m -- Progress Ohio characterizes the GOP pension reform bill as "Hyprocrisy Now!" because legislators are excluded from the double dipping ban.]