Retire-Rehire Program Abuse

The Seattle Times has a great story on the use of the “retire-rehire” provision in state law that allows someone to retire, and then be hired back by the state or another governmnet but still collect his or her retirement. When I searched on the issue on the internet I hit a bunch of similar stories from 2003, the last time this program came up. Same problem.

Retired, then rehired: How college workers use loophole to boost pay

A Seattle Times investigation has found that at least 40 university or community-college employees in Washington retired and were rehired within weeks, often returning to the same job without the position ever being advertised. That has allowed them to double dip by collecting both a salary and a pension.

Seattle Times June 26, 2010

I’ve gotten some mail from constituents about it and am sending the following reply:

There are a few cases where the government wants to hire back someone who has retired and is earning a pension that they’ve contributed to over a long career. It’s hard to get them to come back if they are unable to collect on the pension they’ve earned. The example that comes up the most is to try to get quality school superintendents willing to work in small districts in Eastern Washington. Obviously, the program could be subject to a lot of abuse if it’s not managed carefully.

This is a frustrating circumstance. As you read the article in the Seattle Times you see situation after situation where the person doing the hiring completely violates the clear standards in the law that the legislature created.

We’ve made a number of changes over the past few years to make the retire-rehire program work effectively in the narrow circumstances where it makes sense. Given the situation reported in the Times I no longer believe that the program can be administered to limit it to those circumstances and will introduce legislation to eliminate it completely in the 2011 session. I am unwilling to support programs that are consistently violated with a “wink and a nod” even if they make sense in a few cases.

Author: Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.