BOISE (AP) — An Idaho citizens commission voted to close a loophole through which longtime state lawmakers who work briefly in high-paying state jobs at the end of their careers get full lifetime pensions as if they’d been full-time state employees all along.
The decisive vote came Thursday, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported.
Pocatello attorney and commission chairman Reed Larsen noted that two years ago he said the retirement perk that lawmakers enacted as a special exemption only for themselves in 1990 “didn’t pass the smell test.”
“I really think this is something that we need to resolve,” he said.
The six-member commission includes three members appointed by the governor and three appointed by the Idaho Supreme Court, meaning it represents both the executive and judicial branches of Idaho’s government.
The commission’s decision holds unless rejected by the Legislature via concurrent resolution. Such a move would need to happen before the 25th day of the legislative session.
The decision came at the end of a hearing at the state Capitol that stretched for more than four hours Thursday and also included a unanimous vote to give state lawmakers 3 percent raises both next year, to $17,879 a year, and to $18,415 the following year.
The panel also voted to boost expense reimbursements for lawmakers, including larger boosts for those who must travel especially large legislative districts; and it set additional stipends for lawmakers who serve in top leadership posts in both parties. The panel also voted unanimously to reimburse lawmakers only for economy-class flights.
The commission also voted to remove benefits for lawmakers who “maintain a second residence in Ada County” during the legislative session, instead simply targeting lodging reimbursements to those whose primary residence is more than 50 miles from the Capitol.