A few days ago, State Labor Cabinet Secretary J.R. Gray retired three years following his appointment to the position. This calls for a celebration.
For his service, Gray will receive a high five, er…three from the state and a bloated pension bonus estimated at about $1.2 million.
Hey, no retirement party is complete without presents, right?
Thanks to a 2005 law, Gray’s legislative pension is calculated on the salary he received in his three years as cabinet secretary — $137,865 this year alone — instead of the 26 years he served in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
This loophole permits lawmakers to base their legislative pensions on the salary of another government job held either before or after serving in Frankfort.
The law also lowered the salary multiplying factor used in figuring pensions from a “high five” to a “high three.” Gray’s six-digit salary from his three years as cabinet secretary counts as his “high three,” which means his pension will be figured completely on his salary as secretary.
In contrast, his “high three” from his years as a state representative would have been a much lower number — around $40,000.
In all, his pension added about $400,000 each year to his three-year salary as secretary, meaning Gray was essentially paid over a half-million dollars a year for heading the labor cabinet.
Now, he’s retiring in time to barely meet the three-year requirement and cash out on his oversized pension.
Gray and all of the other political cronies who plan to take advantage of this taxpayer-funded cash cow might be celebrating. But citizens are not.