Louisiana House Votes against Suspending Benefits for Convicted Employees

April 20, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Louisiana House of Representatives has decided that elected officials and public employees who commit crimes and serve time in prison still should be able to collect retirement benefits.

The Shreveport Times reports that after raising several questions and amending House Bill 224 so it applied only to sentences resulting from job-related crimes, the House killed it with a vote of 41-56.  

State Representative Kevin Pearson wanted the House to suspend retirement benefits while a public servant serves time in prison, saying the state has to pay for incarceration, so it shouldn’t have to also pay retirement benefits for someone who committed a crime, according to the news report. The bill would have allowed resumption of benefits when the convicted person was released, but while serving sentence, the retirement system would have considered the retiree dead and award any eligible death benefits to a surviving spouse or children.

However, House members said it would be unfair to suspend retirement benefits for a state official or employee when a member of a private retirement system doesn’t have that constraint.  

Other states have decided to cut off retirement benefits for officials accused of corruption while in office, including Illinois (see IL Supreme Court Quashes Pension Hopes for Former Governor) and Connecticut (see Connecticut AG Targets Pensions of Corrupt Officials).