Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is receiving a Texas pension of more than $92,000 a year in addition to his almost $133,000 salary as governor, according to a financial disclosure statement released today.
Perry, 61, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1984 and served as agriculture commissioner and lieutenant governor before succeeding George W. Bush in the top job when the latter was elected president in 2000. Perry began receiving the pension of $7,698 a month, before taxes, beginning Jan. 31, said Ray Sullivan, a campaign spokesman.
“The combination of Governor Perry’s U.S. military service, state service and age exceeded the state-required 80 years and qualified him for the annuity,” Sullivan said. He said Perry continues to pay 6.5 percent of his salary into the state retirement system.
With U.S. unemployment topping 8 percent for 34 straight months, so-called double-dipping by tens of thousands of government workers nationwide has drawn greater scrutiny. Arkansas banned the practice this year and at least 10 states changed laws in 2010 dealing with government retirees who go back to work on public payrolls while collecting pension checks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“This makes Governor Perry look like a guy who will take advantage of the system and not stand on principle when it is to his own benefit,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit research organization that promotes free markets and limited government. “This is a benefit that was deliberately created for government and designed to allow double-dipping.”
A bill to block the practice in Texas, authored by Representative Kenneth Sheets, a Dallas Republican, failed to get out of a pensions committee before the legislative session ended in June. Sheets didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Perry’s pension.
In addition to his government roles in Texas, Perry served about five years in the U.S. Air Force.
Perry reported assets between $1.2 million and $2.4 million, primarily from a money market fund and a trust, both valued at between $500,000 and $1 million. Candidates need only to disclose their holdings in broad ranges.
In August, Perry ended his blind trust. His filings showed that his trust holdings included General Electric Co., ConocoPhillips, Microsoft Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.