Late in the 2015 legislative session serious flaws in the state’s pension laws came to light. The loophole allowed public employees to receive their state funded pension even if they committed a crime in the course of their public duties. Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who previously served as chair of the Select Committee on Pension Policy reintroduced two pieces of legislation to stop this abuse that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
- Senate Bill 6433 authorizes the forfeiture of a pension of a public employee convicted of a felony for misconduct associated with the execution of their official duties.
- Senate Bill 6434 would allow a public employees pension to be garnished to pay for the costs of their incarceration.
“When this issue first came to light I was shocked,” said Bailey. “I was determined to craft a solution to this flaw in our state’s pension laws that balances the interests of state employees and taxpayers’ resources.”
If enacted, Washington would join 25 other states who have what are commonly referred to as pension forfeiture laws where public employees could lose part or all of their taxpayer funded pensions if convicted of certain related crimes.
“I think these are common-sense measures aimed at preventing bad actors from gaming the system,” Bailey said. “If a public employee commits heinous crimes in the course of their duties they should not expect to be rewarded by taxpayers.”
The legislation was met with strong opposition, with the teacher’s association vowing “to fight it.”
Click here to read about the KING 5’s investigation into this issue.