Monday, October 5, 2009

Oxendine Statement on Disclosure of State Pensions

Insider Advantage writer Dick Pettys reports that according to ERS, it no longer is possible for the taxpayers of Georgia to find out a full disclosure on state pensions. This means that taxpayers cannot discover which pensioner is getting what from state government.

Mr. Pettys reminds us that state employees, while on active duty, have their salaries easily accessible for all to see. But when a taxpayer-funded employee retires, their pension information is protected from their bosses, the taxpayers of Georgia.

Mr. Pettys reports state law was changed during the 1997 session of the Legislature, when Democrats still were in control of both chambers.

O.C.G.A. 47-1-14(b) “…the following records maintained by a retirement system are exempted from being open to inspection by the general public:…(4) any business, financial, or personal information in the possession of such retirement system concerning a party other than such retirement system."

I want to congratulate WGCL (TV 46) reporter Wendy Saltzman and the station’s owner, Meredith Corp, for their initial work on this matter. I also congratulate Dick Pettys for his work on this issue too.

Let me be perfectly clear on this issue. If it is in fact true that ERS is refusing to release this information based on any interpretation of any state law, that will change in January, 2011. Should I become Governor, I will direct my legal counsel in the first days of an Oxendine Administration to meet with the heads of every Georgia retirement system and the Attorney General.

If I receive confirmation that these reports are true, I will direct my Administration Floor Leaders to immediately introduce legislation to reverse this outrageous policy and practice.

Every state employee needs to understand that all of us, including me, are employees of the taxpayers of Georgia. They are our bosses and they have every right to know about our compensation. Period.

I call on Governor Perdue, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Richardson to act prior to 2011 and move legislation early in the 2010 Session to address these allegations and provide facts to the taxpayers that they remain in charge of their state employees.

John Oxendine
Governor 2010

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