BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The number of state and local government employees granted waivers allowing them to double-dip on their salaries and pensions is up this year, and you are paying for it.
The numbers are up slightly from last year. At least 870 New Yorkers got special permission to work for the government and collect a public pension this year. That's 21 more than last year.
2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik spoke with an analyst at the Empire Center, an independent think-tank based in Albany, about how the pension waiver process works.
"Any time you're paying a pension and a paycheck at the same time, tax payers have a right to scratch their heads and wonder why they're paying the same person twice," said the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin.
Girardin is an analyst for the Empire Center, the group responsible for SeeThroughNY. It's an online clearinghouse for information about public payrolls, pensions, and contracts.
This week, SeeThroughNY posted new double-dipping data showing the state and local government employees who received waivers to work for a public employer while continuing to receive their public pension. As of the first of this year, 870 people got waivers.
Girardin said this is just the tip of the iceberg of New York's double-dippers because you only have to apply for a waiver if you are under 65 and make more than $30,000 a year. If you're under that pay level, or over 65, you don't need a waiver to double-dip.
So, who do the waiver seekers typically work for?
"In Upstate New York, we see a lot of District Attorney offices hiring retired police officers. Now, that isn't to say that retired police officers aren't qualified to work as DA investigators, but we would question whether it's appropriate to be having your default hire be retired police officers instead of trying to find people who you wouldn't be paying twice," Girardin said.
Girardin says it's up to you to ask whether it's appropriate for public employers to be seeking the waivers.
"You, as a taxpayer, are responsible for paying not only the paycheck for these employees, but also their pension. You have to guarantee payment to that pension for the foreseeable future regardless of how the stock market performs. So, you have a right to be concerned that you're paying people twice," Girardin said.