Up until 2004 there were not “double dippers” in PERA. Prior to 2004 a PERA employee could retire and come back to work as long as the employee did not earn more than $15,000 annually. This worked well and was manageable for the PERA fund to handle.
Big Bill Richardson tried several times to “tap” into the PERA fund but was stopped by the PERA members applying pressure to their representatives. Well, he finally found a way to “tap” into the fund.
In 2004, the legislature passed the double dipping bill, which was approved by then Gov. Big Billy Richardson. This allowed a PERA member to retire and return to work, thus, receiving a pension and a salary from a city, county or state municipality. The original proposal was to allow certain critical positions to be filled by retirees because they could not fill them otherwise, such as, police and fire. Big Bill told them “no”, it is for all PERA retirees or none. The legislature passed the bill and it allowed all to return. About this same time, the legislature also passed a 20 year retirement for corrections and other like employees who were on a twenty-five year plus retirement plan.
Major Problem #1
What did this mean? It meant that these people who pay a lesser amount into PERA for twenty years would receive a full pension five plus years earlier. We do not blame anyone for taking advantage of such a benefit. After all, Big Bill was looking to get a few extra votes. Here is the problem, who was going to cover the costs of those who did not pay into the system for those extra five years? Who was going to cover the costs of those municipalities who did not make matching contributions to PERA for those extra five years?
Major Problem #2
When Big Bill refused to allow the program for critical positions such as police and fire, he had a plan. The plan was to pay his political friends with super high paying jobs and their PERA pensions. Richardson had over 463 employees who were making over 100k a year as “political appointees” who were “double dippers.” Richardson was asked to release the names of his cronies’ but Big Bill refused and never did. Here is the major problem, who paid for all of those huge “double dippers,” many who still work for the State? This same mentality was used across the state by other cities and county municipalities. Albuquerque still has many of Marty Chavez’s political pawns, which Berry has been too chicken to get rid of them. We are still feeling the effects of corruption that was started by the Governor’s Office.
This is the bottom-line; Richardson approved this ENTIRE mess as the Governor of the State of New Mexico for his own political gain. This makes the State of New Mexico liable for all and any damages to the fund and/or the members of PERA who have been or will be affected adversely. The legislature needs to stop blaming PERA or its’ members for the debacle that was created, caused under the control of the State of New Mexico’s agent, Bill Richardson.
The New Mexico State Statue states the State must exhaust all other means of correcting a problem before they attempt to cut benefits to PERA members. The State has NOT complied with this as of this time and are moving to cut PERA members benefits. We foresee a huge lawsuit coming...