Monday, June 16, 2008

Pay raise would boost some legislators' retirement benefits

Seventeen Louisiana lawmakers would receive a double boost if a proposed legislative pay raise is approved by the Senate.

They are members of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, and the benefit of a higher salary is clear, said Maris LeBlanc, deputy director of the system. Besides getting a bigger monthly paycheck, their retirement benefits would be calculated on the new rate of at least $43,500 a year instead of the current minimum $22,800 ($16,800 base, plus $6,000 expense allotment).

"If a member receives a higher salary during the last 36 months of their service, the retirement benefit is increased," LeBlanc said. "The total amount of increase will depend on the date of retirement."

"A constitutional amendment adopted in 1996 precludes new legislators from joining LASERS unless they are eligible for membership due to some prior service," LeBlanc said.

The increased pay for lawmakers in LASERS would mean an increase in the unfunded accrued liability of the retirement system, something the Legislature tries to pay down on each time surplus revenue are available.

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