By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
At age 55, South Carolina state Sen. David Thomas began collecting a pension for his legislative service without leaving office.
Most workers must retire from their jobs before getting retirement benefits. But Thomas used a one-sentence law that he and his colleagues passed in 2002 to let legislators receive a taxpayer-funded pension instead of a salary after serving for 30 years.
“Taxes are too high and spending is out of control.” Every candidate for office will say these words, but no one in Congress is willing to take a stand to cut taxes and reduce government spending. As your next representative in Washington I will work tirelessly to reduce governmental waste, fraud and abuse of your hard earned tax dollars. --- South Carolina David L. Thomas (from his Congressional campaign website)Thomas' $32,390 annual retirement benefit — paid for the rest of his life — is more than triple the $10,400 salary he gave up. His pension exceeds the salary because of another perk: Lawmakers voted to count their expenses in the salary used to calculate their pensions.
No other South Carolina state workers get those perks.
Since January 2005, Thomas, a Republican, has made $148,435 more than a legislative salary would have paid, his financial-disclosure records show. At least four other South Carolina lawmakers are getting pensions instead of salaries, netting an extra $292,000 since 2005, records show.
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