ERS tells KXAN the feature was taken offline on Dec. 16 â€“ thatâ€™s the same day the Texas Tribune published a story that caused quite a stir about Gov. Rick Perryâ€™s retirement.
â€śPerry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay,â€ť the Tribune article stated. â€śPerry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor.Â Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.â€ť
People asked KXAN whether ERS took down the web form as a result of the discovery in Perryâ€™s latest presidential campaign finance report. ERS told us it was pure coincidence.
The agencyâ€™s communications and research director, Catherine Terrell, said the document instead needed several updates:
Remove information about long term care, as no new enrollments would be allowed after Jan. 1
Add information about Humana Medicare Advantage Plan, which goes into effect for retirees with Medicare on Jan. 1
Update old ERS logo and branding
â€śIt had nothing to do with the governor,â€ť Terrell said. â€śWe counsel people on their retirement. As far as I know, thatâ€™s what we did for him, too.â€ť
While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Perry told the Tribune he did not find the process to be â€śout of the ordinary.â€ť
“ERS called me and said, ‘Listen, you’re eligible to access your retirement now with your military time and your time and service, and I think you would be rather foolish to not access what youâ€™ve earned.’â€ť
Terrell explained that there are two retirement classes related to this matter. The â€śelected classâ€ť is for elected state officials (ESO) like state legislators, district attorneys and statewide elected officials. State employees are in the â€śemployee class.â€ť
â€śState law allows certain elected state officials to establish and transfer service from one class to the other, and to retire in one class and work, contribute and accrue service in a different class,â€ť Terrell said.
Perry can eventually retire from both systems. Right now, he is retired from the â€śemployee class,â€ť and he will retire from the â€śelected classâ€ť when he leaves office.
â€ś(Perry) receives annuity from employee class and continues to pay 6 percent of his salary into elected class as allowed by Texas law,â€ť Perryâ€™s campaign spokesperson Ray Sullivan told KXAN on Monday.
Perry can legally collect employee class annuity under the â€śrule of 80,â€ť which means â€śthe combination of (Perryâ€™s) U.S. military service, state service and age exceeded 80 years and qualifies him for the annuity under Texas Government Code 813.503 as amended in 1991,â€ť according to Sullivan in the Tribune article.
KXAN obtained a copy of ERSâ€™ â€śreturn to workâ€ť document previously posted online and found, if Perry had only been in one class â€“ the employee class â€“ he would not be able to both collect retirement and resume earning his salary as governor.
The document said that employeesâ€™ retirement can be cancelled if they have promise of employment:
IRS and ERS rules say that you cannot have a promise of employment with the State when you retire
State law says you cannot return to work within 90 days of retiring
Terrell said the revised version of the ERS document would be available online Jan. 1.
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