Pension Spiking Leads to Cronyism


Bill, Bill who’s got the bill is the game played by our untrustworthy legislators as taxpayers get saddled with even more pension obligations. In the past 3 months Governor Otter has made 4 appointments of legislators, who to say the least have been close friends of the administration for many years. Senators Werk, Geddes, Cameron and the latest Tippets have been going along and voting for controversial legislation which the Governor’s office has pushed like the State Healthcare Exchange and the 7 cent gas tax increase. These appointments will cost taxpayers of Idaho millions in bloated pensions because of a loophole in the law that some senators did not want closed. It’s time for this citizens’ committee to rear its ugly head and say no more and make a determination that the last 4 appointments that slid in under the higher pension loophole be rescinded, and that the loophole be closed for good.

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We reviewed the Governor’s comments on 670KBOI and listened to his boloney trying to tell the public that having these legislators is beneficial to the state, and the amount of money we are talking about is miniscule. So let us get this straight, a legislator only has to spend 42 months in his appointed position, and he or she can increase their pension payout by thousands of dollars more per month. Folks, we are talking serious money here. Just for example, according to the Idaho Reporter “Had Tippets R-Bennington, Stegner R-Lewiston and others simply retired from the Legislature without working 42 months at high paying state jobs, they would have received somewhere between $400 and $700 per month. Sategner will take at least $3,600 per month and Tippets a similar rate if he leads DEQ for 42 months. If they retired after 42 months and lived for another 25 years, that would cost the taxpayers $1,080,000 for each of them. The Governor has made 4 recent appointments which if we take pencil to pad will come out to a cost of $4,320,000 to the tax payers of Idaho. That is not a miniscule amount.


Otter is not alone in defending this practice which is nothing more than cronyism of the highest order. Fred Wood R-Burley and Stephen Hartgen R-Twin Falls have both defended the pension perks. By the way Stephen Hartgen is a perpetual critic of the Freedom Foundation possibly because of his low ratings on his votes during the legislative by the Freedom Index on which he scores a minus 47, with just 20 other legislators worse than him and most of them are Democrats. Hartgen originally supported the bill to kill the pension perks, but reversed himself on the House floor. Maybe there is a position waiting in the not too distant future for Rep. Hartgen.


Getting the citizens committee to do anything is all but a dream since 3 of the committee are appointed by the Governor and 3 by the Idaho Supreme Court. Who appoints the Idaho Supreme Court justices? Well of course the Governor. Does anyone get the fact that the system is rigged? This is nothing more than a good old boys club where cronyism is the payoff for doing what the Governor and legislative leadership say you should do. We really don’t have an independent legislature anymore. We have had so many years of establishment republicans like Butch Otter in office that we have created a continual wave year after year of cronyism and political favoritism, the likes of which Idaho has not seen before.


Giving Otter the ability to offer these lucrative positions to legislators in like dangling the proverbial carrot in front of the donkey to get him to do what you want. We might all be amazed how a legislator could change his vote on a critical bill in the governor’s favor if he or she thought there was a potential $1,000,000 pension benefit in the future for them. If you were the legislator being offered the carrot, would you vote the way your constituents wanted you to vote or the way the governor wanted you to vote? This is why we wind up with such bad legislative decisions like the $60 million contract which was changed at the last minute by Gwartney in favor of Quest and ENA and has so far cost the taxpayers over $30 million and counting.


When voters get lazy and don’t hold their legislators accountable for their actions, they get the government they deserve. Only the voters can change their state, but they have to be informed about what is happening, and they can’t do that by listening to the general media like the Press Tribune, The Idaho Statesman or local TV. Try the internet, you may make some interesting discoveries. Read our newsletter, the Gem State Patriot. Do anything, but please don’t vote the same cronies into office in 2016. Find out who’s for real and who is looking for a payoff.

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