While he is asking state employees to contribute more, work longer and accept less in retirement benefits, Gov. Bobby Jindal has quietly filed application to buy back 2.2 years of service to beef up his own retirement benefits.
Papers filed on Jan. 4 with the Louisiana State Employee Retirement System (LASERS) to buy back the 2.2 years that would be added to his public tenure and thus, increase his public employee retirement benefits which are already based on a higher percentage than rank and file state employees.
This would appear to be yet another shameless display of Jindal’s total contempt for state employees and his relentless agenda of self-promotion.
State civil service workers presently get 2.5 percent of the averaged top three years of earnings times the number of years of service. Thus, an employee with an average income of $50,000 over three years who retires after 30 years would receive $37,500 in annual retirement income.
The governor, however, earns an additional one percent, or 3.5 percent of average income for top earnings for three years times years of service. Based on the same hypothetical $50,000 salary and the same 30 years of service at 3.5 percent, the retirement income would be $52,500, or $2,500 per year more than his salary when working.
Moreover, while rank and file employees must work 30 years if they are 55 years of age or younger before becoming retirement eligible, the governor, lieutenant governor and state treasurer may retire at age 55 after only 12 years of service.
Jindal, as well as any other elected officials currently in office are also exempt from being required to pay an additional 3 percent into their retirement for the remainder of their respective terms.
Jindal was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Foster as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in 1996, a position he held until 1998. That same year he was appointed executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.
On March 5, 1999, he withdrew $15,252.46 in retirement funds from LASERS for contributions made from Jan. 9, 1996 through Feb. 16, 1998. The refund was apparently made while serving at Foster’s request as a volunteer to study how Louisiana should use its $4.4 billion share of the tobacco settlement.
Later in 1999, at age 26, he was appointed by Foster as the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System and in March 2001 he was nominated by President George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.
He resigned from that position in 2003 to make his first run for governor, a race that he lost to Kathleen Blanco and in 2004 he was elected to Congress where he remained until he won his first term as governor in 2007.
With the purchase of the 2.2 years, he now has a little more than 13 years as an elected and appointive official at both the state and federal levels and, provided he completes his term, will have 17 years of combined credited time on which to base his pension.
Buy those two years might have been a good idea; with only a single year in the private sector, at McKinsey & Co. right after college and four years in various positions in the federal government, including two years in Congress, he doesn’t appear to be on track for much in the way of social security benefits when he reaches 65 (or would that be 67?).
On his application form, Jindal listed among his state employment his service with DHH, the University of Louisiana System, governor and “teacher at LSU.” Jindal taught briefly at LSU
A printout provided by LASERS shows that besides the $15,252.46 that he withdrew in 1999, he also owed interest of $26,923.89 through Jan. 4. The total due, if paid by Feb. 5, was given as $42,176.35. For the next 30 days after Feb. 5, the amount was given as $42,455.89 and $42,737.30 if paid after March 6.
The LASERS document noted that only the amount shown as “Refunded” ($15,252.46) would be credited to his account. Any interest payments are not credited and are not refundable in the event Jindal terminates state employment and requests another refund of contributions.
Word from LASERS late Tuesday was that the money has been paid to purchase the 2.2 years but it was not clear as to whether the payment was from Jindal’s personal account or if it was obtained from campaign funds.