Star Telegram: “Double dipping” bill worthy of consideration

Last week, I filed my first bill of the session, HB 413, which will ban the “double-dipping” of a state pension and salary at the same time by elected officials. You may remember this issue from Governor Perry’s run for President when it was revealed that the governor has “retired” from state service in order to begin collecting a state pension – even though he was still on the job and collecting his regular salary.

It’s important to note that Governor Perry is almost certainly not the only elected official who is taking advantage of this loophole; he just happens to be the one we know about due to financial disclosures associated with his presidential campaign.

During the past few days, our legislation has received a good amount of media attention across the state, including this Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial on Saturday:

fwst_r

Editorial

January 11, 2013

‘Double-dipping’ bill worthy of lawmakers’ careful consideration

Had Gov. Rick Perry not run for president, Texans might never have known that he had “retired” and was already collecting his pension, a practice permitted by a 1991 law that apparently few people — including present and past lawmakers — fully understood.

The pension records of Texas politicians are private, so unless someone discloses that he or she is receiving the monthly benefits, there is no way the public will know which officials are “double-dipping,” drawing a pension while also drawing a state salary.

As a presidential candidate, Perry had to file income statements with the Federal Election Commission, revealing that he is receiving more than $90,000 a year in pension payments in addition to his $150,000 annual pay as governor.

That revelation shocked many people around the state, as did news reported by the Texas Tribune earlier this year that the governor was “in an elite group of 189 employees who make at least $100,000 annually while drawing a state pension, according to figures provided by the state comptroller.”

 That practice will be stopped if State Rep. Chris Turner gets his way. On Wednesday Turner, D-Grand Prairie, filed House Bill 413, which would prevent “elected officials from collecting a salary and state pension at the same time, if their retirement payments are a result of their service as an elected official,” his office said in a new release.

Turner said his legislation, which would not be retroactive, is designed to ensure that if politicians “retire” to collect a pension they should truly retire and not collect a salary.

Otherwise, it is unfair for taxpayers to pay them twice.

The sponsor of the bill to revise the pension plan more than 20 years ago, former Democratic Sen. Bob Glasgow of Stephenville, did not realize the special double-dipping perk was in it, the Tribune reported, noting that the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock used the provision to supplement his income through the pension plan.

 It is a bad practice that legislators this session should correct, and Turner’s bill provides a vehicle for doing that.

This bill has also been covered in recent days by the Texas Tribune, the Dallas Morning News, KEYE-TV and KLIF-AM.

To keep the momentum going on this legislation, I need your help. Please forward this email to your contacts, share these stories on your Facebook page and tweet them out to your friends and family.

With your help, we can put an end to the double-dipping loophole this session.

State Representative Chris Turner

Turner Sworn in to Represent Tarrant County’s New District

Will focus on the priorities of District 101: Good jobs, quality schools & affordable health care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
January 8, 2013

 swearinginAUSTIN – Today, as the 83rd Texas Legislature convened, Chris Turner took the oath of office to represent the new District 101 in the House of Representatives. Turner was elected in November 2012 to serve the fast-growing areas of southeast Arlington and western Grand Prairie.

“It’s a great honor and privilege to serve our community in the Texas House,” said Turner. “This is a critical time for our state and I’m committed to working hard for the families of our district in the Legislature.”

During the 140-day legislative session, Turner’s focus will be on the issues important to Arlington and Grand Prairie families: good jobs, fair funding for public schools, reforms to the testing-focused school accountability system, health care affordability and access, and improving basic infrastructure.

“Texas families courageously continue to meet major challenges in every aspect of their lives,” Turner said. “They deserve better than what they have been getting from their state government. This session, we must focus on the basic priorities that all Texans have a right to expect: quality public schools, affordable health care and good paying jobs.”

Turner previously served in the House from 2009-2011, representing District 96. During his first legislative session, Turner authored and passed the landmark bill establishing a dedicated lottery scratch-off ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance. The $2 “Veterans Cash” ticket has generated over $20 million to pay for much-needed aid to Texas veterans and their families.

A lifelong Texan, Turner graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and today works in the public relations industry. Turner and his wife of thirteen years, Lisa, live in Grand Prairie. Chris’s two stepchildren, Melissa and Scott, both graduated from Summit High School in Mansfield ISD.

Turner was joined on the House floor during the swearing in ceremony by Lisa and his father, Gary Turner of Dallas

State Representative Chris Turner

Thank You!

Thank you. With early voting results in, I’m humbled to say that we’re at 90 percent of the vote and headed back to Austin.

We have much to celebrate tonight, and Lisa and I cannot thank you enough. Our victory is the result of the hundreds of volunteers and donors and the thousands of voters in District 101 who believe we need change in Austin and want to have a representative who is not afraid to stand up to the special interests and partisan agendas. I am so honored that the voters have placed their trust in me to fight for their families in our state’s capitol.

So tonight, let’s celebrate. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work for the people of Arlington and Grand Prairie and promise to do my very best to represent you well in the Texas House of Representatives.

With much gratitude,

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