in Houston, Texas
Public pension details in Texas kept confidential, not subject to public records requests
Thursday, Mar 31, 2011, 03:10PM CST
By Steve Miller
secret

Our post today regarding the Bloomberg story on pensions and public employees “double dipping” features a named state employee who apparently has little shame over taking a pension and a full, six-figure salary.

 

Good for Bloomberg. State lawmakers have made it almost impossible to learn the names of those receiving state pensions and the amounts. In the last legislative session, Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, passed a bill that ensured that not only the names of pensioners are confidential, but the names of kin that may have pension benefits transferred to them are also private.

 

Texas Watchdog recently filed a public information request seeking the names of those 677,921 state employees currently receiving pensions. We were curious just how large the pensions are, what the average payment looks like, and to what extent pensioners had gone back into government and were "double dipping." Just like government salaries, it's a bill that comes due to the public. (We did also ask for birthdates, not so that we could publish them, but so we could be reasonably sure if we were identifying X pensioner also working for Y agency, it was the same person and not just two people with the same name.)

 

We received a note back from the state comptroller’s office:

The individually identifying information that you seek regarding (Employees Retirement System) annuitants or retirees is confidential pursuant to Texas Government Code Section 815.503. … The individually identifying information that you seek regarding (Teacher Retirement System) annuitants or retirees is confidential pursuant to Texas Government Code Section 815.507.

We did receive a small spreadsheet tracking the total amounts and number of employees in the system starting in 2006.

 

But unless someone in the legislature - where members also enjoy a pension after serving 12 years - steps up in the name of transparency, we will never know who, by name, is making what from the public trough.

 

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of 'secret' label by flickr user Audric Leperdi, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Enigmaticaluna
Tuesday, 04/05/2011 - 09:26AM

Even if Texas were one of the best States compare with others, Texas have too many problems that need to be solve and bring to the people as the good intentions, seems everyone have before they reach the legislature. Corruption is all over the place, Texans need to step forward and unite to demand from Austin the transparency they preach to have... too many back door deals, while we paid for, we also get insulted.

It's time to stop it and alert Texans, that things are not what they seems... I will post this, so others can gather and start making a coalition in support of your efforts, thank you for watch over Texas.

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