Riverside County State Senator John Benoit has been a loud and aggressive critic of the California Public Employees Retirement System, commonly known as Cal-PERS.
John Benoit has made it clear that he believes the pension payments to California's retired state employees are too big and are pushing the state to the brink of bankruptcy. Therefore, Benoit wants to cut the payments to the state's future retirees, including prison guards, firefighters, and highway patrolmen.
But if California's retirement system is already ruining the state as Benoit claims, why doesn't Senator Benoit support retroactively reducing the pension payments of public employees already in retirement?
The answer is simple: John Benoit does not want to cut his own retirement benefits.
On October 9, 2009 the Los Angeles Times reported that eight State Legislators are being paid both a state salary and a state pension.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
"John Benoit, a Republican state senator from Palm Desert and a former California Highway Patrol captain, is one. He draws a $98,600 annual state pension while also collecting a six-figure salary as a lawmaker."
This practice, known as "double dipping," has been condemned by Senator John Benoit.
The LA Times also reported:
"Benoit, who retired at age 50 seven years ago, is a member of the state Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. He said he had no comment."
Very interesting that a man who has made pension reform part of his political identity refuses to comment when it comes to his own retirement.
It is more disturbing to us dear readers that State Senator John Benoit would criticize the retirements of peace officers and other public employees, while receiving almost $100,000 a year.
But to add insult to injury, it is important to remember that Senator Benoit receives a disability retirement for having contracted skin cancer on the job. Because of this, a large portion of Benoit's retirement pay is not subject to income tax.
Now if the Governor appoints John Benoit to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Benoit will continue to receive his retirement payments. But he will also start earning additional retirement credits in the Cal-PERS system as a member of the Board of Supervisors.
While 1990's Proposition 140 prohibits State Legislators from receiving a state pension, this prohibition does not apply to the County Board of Supervisors. John Benoit stands to profit extensively at taxpayer expense if he is appointed to serve the remainder of Supervisor Roy Wilson's term.
Even if John Benoit were to be appointed to the Board today, get beat in a tough election by former Senator Jim Battin next June, and leave the Board next December, that one year of additional retirement credits would bump Benoit's annual pension payments over $100,000.
Not bad for a so-called conservative Republican who thinks the California Public Employees Retirement System is the root of all of our state's evil.