Updated: Tuesday, 17 Mar 2009, 9:33 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 17 Mar 2009, 9:33 PM MDT
SANTA FE (KRQE) - Recent revelations by investigative reporter Larry Barker has legislators looking at problems with fake retirement and double-dipping of paychecks and pensions among state workers.
Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, D-Santa Fe, has sponsored a bill to stop the practice that allows public employees to go through motions of retiring and then return to the old jobs. Current law requires those employees to be retired for three months before returning, but Barker's reports documented abuses of that requirement.
Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is pushing to get Varela's bill to get to the governor for his signature.
Smith told KRE News 13 he plans to push the bill through his committee and onto the Senate floor. The current session of the Legislature adjourns at noon Saturday.
"I think it has a good chance of making it through the committee," Smith said. "I think most of my committee members of finance are anxious to plug that loophole."
Under the bill, retired government employees would have to wait a full year before returning to work, and their salaries could be no more than $30,000.
As it stands now retired workers must wait 90 days, and salaries aren't capped.
"I understand return-to-work when there's a legitimate shortage of people, where in fact it's in areas where there's a large labor pool to draw from," Smith said. "It has the appearance of being abused."
If the double-dipping ban passes the Senate Finance Committee it will go before the whole Senate.
Gov. Bill Richardson has told News 13 if the bill makes it to his desk, he'll sign it into law. The ban would then take effect on July 1.