Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawmakers Focus on Double-Dipping Retirees

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawmakers Focus on Double-Dipping Retirees

Article excerpt

House and Senate members explored Monday the future of a state law allowing educators to retire for two months before resuming a teaching career in the same district while continuing to draw benefits from the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System.

The six-year-old statute permitting these KPERS retirees to double-dip is scheduled to expire in June. The 2015 Kansas Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback will be responsible for determining whether to renew, repeal or reform the exemption held by certified educators.

No clear political consensus exists at the Capitol, but a representative of the Kansas Association of School Boards urged lawmakers to perpetuate current law because school districts of all sizes were able to benefit from an enlarged pool of experienced educators.

However, KASB lobbyist Tom Krebs told members of the Joint Pensions, Investments and Benefits Committee care should be taken to avoid broadening financial strain on KPERS' teacher fund.

"We support extended current law allowing certified employees to return to work after retirement," he said, "provided it does not increase the liability of the system."

Woven into the committee's debate was a Kansas law limiting workplace income of KPERS retirees not eligible for an income exception to $20,000 annually. This cap doesn't apply to retirees who are licensed educators, substitute teachers, legislative staff or licensed nurses at state hospitals

If the exemption for K-12 school employees were to expire, they would be subject to an earnings cap if working in the same school district from which they had retired. Individuals in KPERS who retire and go to work at a different school district aren't affected by the earnings cap.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said consideration should be given to abandoning the cap. The artificial restraint on income serves primarily to prevent KPERS members from retiring as soon as they are able, he said.

"I would be, obviously, anti-cap," Masterson said. "From a global perspective, it's just simply a throttle mechanism. They have earned the right to retire and then they have earned the right to come back to work. …

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