Lobbyists as State Pensioners

Want an inkling of how the government leviathan grows and builds protective barriers around its ever expanding reach and power over taxpayers and citizens? Thanks to an AP story this morning the public has learned something we should have known long ago. In at least 20 states, lobbyists for school districts, cities and counties are eligible for taxpayer funded and guaranteed pensions.

How utterly absurd but how easily predicable. The practice ought to be viewed as a major scandal but in these times of Benghazi, the NSA, the IRS, a New York mayoral candidate, Fast and Furious, Solyndra and illegal Justice Department harassment of a Fox reporter, the revelation that people who have spent all or most of their careers helping governments and school districts get more taxpayer money and favorable legislation out of state legislative bodies will garner hardly any notice beyond a one day story.

It is another example of what the Founders were so concerned about with representative government. To wit, the creation of close ties between elected officials and special interests with the power to help them get re-elected. And working together they abuse the public interest and taxpayers (many of whom, sadly, are perfectly content to let it happen or are part of the group getting the favored treatment). Labor unions are long since major beneficiaries of this type of corruption of representative government.

Lobbyists-who are by definition not government employees-working for private or non-profit agencies whose primary, if not exclusive, source of revenue comes from governments and therefore taxpayers, should never be allowed to double dip and get a taxpayer funded pension. Their compensation package with the employer should be the provider of any and all employee benefits. Only employees of governments and government entities should be eligible for taxpayer guaranteed pensions. A government pension for these non-government employees extends status to them they should not have since they are subject to the same rules as government employees.

This situation extends to Pennsylvania where the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) employees have been ruled eligible for taxpayer funded and guaranteed pensions. The ruling is decades old and was handed down by an attorney general who viewed the association as an extension of the school districts. It is time that ruling was reversed. School districts should not be allowed to basically hire an outside firm, regardless of its name or affiliations, and then make its employees the equivalent of school employees when it comes to pensions. The practice ought to be stopped for future hires and current Board employees should not be able accrue further pension benefits beyond the end of 2013.

If the legislature wants to do something easy about pensions, they should fix this outrage. But the PSBA in collusion with the teachers unions has its tentacles deep into the legislative process and will no doubt fight any such change.