Paying for Criminals’ Pensions

Yesterday, the PA House passed an amendment making it illegal for public employees to request lump-sum pension payments after they have been convicted of a crime related to their duties.

The policy is a response to former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr.’s request of nearly $234,000. Ciavarella is eligible for a monthly pension payment of at least $5,150 until sentencing, but a pension payment is protected from forfeiture.

Revoking Ciavarella’s pension will do little to address the billions of dollars taxpayers are expected to shoulder in unfunded retirement benefits. Then again, given Pennsylvania’s record of convicting civil servants, perhaps the law would make an impact.

But if lawmakers are seriously concerned about criminals hosing taxpayers they should reform SERS and PSERS by moving to a defined contribution plan instead of current defined benefit plans.