Double-Dipping Costs Climb

STATE—Extensive newspaper reporting on the ways in which the public employee pension systems have been manipulated and abused has not stopped the number of New Jersey government workers with more than one public job from increasing.

According to government payroll data, 8,255 workers had two or more jobs with the state, county, school districts, municipalities or other non-federal public agencies.

There are hundreds of elected officials who also occupy other paid government jobs. The median salary among double-dipping government workers was more than $61,000 and the total tax expenditure for the jobs was more than $538 million.

The report said 1,560 double-dippers claimed taxpayer funded salaries in excess of $100,000 last year, up almost double from 896 in 2007.

A review of New Jersey pension data from 2002 showed that $238 million — 3 percent of the entire payroll of local, county and state government, excluding police, firefighters and teachers — was paid in salaries to 9,500 people holding 24,700 government jobs.

By comparison, in 2008 more than $538 million was paid to 8,255 people holding multiple government jobs.  There were 1,560 people in 3,856 jobs for which the combined salaries exceed $100,000.

There are a total of 483,600 public employees in the state, most of whom work fulltime hours in productive jobs earning less than $50,000.

About a third of New Jersey’s legislators have more than one state-funded job, so they have little incentive to act.

Proposed legislation that would begin to address the problem has failed to move forward and no measures to abate the situation have been given serious consideration.

One proposal would limit enrollment in the state’s defined benefits plans to full-time employees while placing part-timers into a 401(k) style system.

Another bill would base retirement pay on a worker’s five highest years of wage earnings, instead of the current system of using the top three years. Yet another would require public employees with more than one job to choose only one of those jobs for calculating pension.

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