There are different kinds of bad.
A state employee who commits fraud while on the job or while using state resources loses his pension if he gets convicted of that crime. But if the same guy is convicted of a crime that mandates registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, he keeps his pension.
State Reps. Kevin and Brendan Boyle want to erase that difference in pension payouts and have sponsored a measure aimed at denying pensions to state or local government employees convicted of sex crimes.
A Philadelphia Daily News story published in late July detailed how former public employees continued to get pension payments even though they were convicted of felonies other than fraud that they committed on or off their jobs. The article said legislative action would be required to change how convicted government workers lose their pensions.
Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) said the story made him angry, especially since he wants to save the state’s pension system.
The measure, which his younger brother Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172nd dist.) said will be introduced in September, does not cover federal or non-governmental workers. And, Kevin Boyle said, just as they would under current law, those denied pensions would not lose what they had already contributed.
“It would be illegal to take away what people have put into the system,” he said.
For example, he said former state Sen. Vincent Fumo was convicted of using his position for fraud and lost his state pension. He did not lose any money he had put in.
However, there’s a big difference in the amounts public employees contribute to their pensions and the amounts they are paid after retirement. Within a couple years, Boyle said, they will get more money paid to them than they had put into the pension system.
The Boyles’ bill is a very narrow addition to state law, Kevin Boyle said in an interview. It amends the current pension forfeiture statute.
Florida has had a law since 2008 that is much broader, he said. It denies pensions to state and local government employees convicted of any felonies. That law has not been successfully challenged, Kevin Boyle said.
“It’s the strictest in the country,” Brendan Boyle said.
The law the two representatives are introducing, though much narrower, is just one step toward getting legislation like Florida’s, Kevin Boyle said.
There have been no previous legislative attempts to take pensions away from public employees convicted of acts mandating Megan’s Law registration, Brendan Boyle stated in an e-mail to the Northeast Times.
The Boyles’ measure originally was broader, Kevin Boyle said, but they realized the bill as initially worded would not be in accord with the state’s constitution.
“In all likelihood, it would have been found it violated the state constitution,” Brendan Boyle said. “We decided to take the safer course.”
The new wording brings the measure in line with the constitution, Kevin Boyle said, and also makes it easier for other legislators to support it.
It will be introduced when the state House goes back into session in September. The Senate also must approve the bill and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett must sign it for it to become law. ••
Contact John Loftus at 215-354-3110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org