Lawmaker aims to change pension forfeiture rules

Investigations

A state lawmaker is cracking down on his colleagues and other state employees who are allowed to keep a pension after committing a crime.

Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin, Perry) wants to take away pensions from state employees who break the law. 

“If people knew how much money this was, I believe it’s well over $200 million a year we’re paying to people who have been convicted of crimes,” said DiSanto.

He is championing a bill that strips pensions from any state employee convicted of a felony. 

“Many of these people that are charged with pension forfeiture crimes, they plea to a lesser crime so that they can keep their pension,” said DiSanto. 

Since 2000, 113 public school employees and 94 state employees have had to forfeit their pensions. However, DiSanto says that number should be much larger.

“There is no mandating reporting to the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System, who are the actual entities that withhold the pensions,” said DiSanto. 

His bill would require mandated reporting. However, the forfeiture changes would only apply to employees who belong to SERS or PSERS.

The bill stalled in the House last year. It passed smoothly through the Senate this year. DiSanto hopes it heads to the governor’s desk this year.

“How can anybody not want to see this bill passed, when you commit a crime as a state employee and you’re allowed to retain your pension?” said DiSanto.

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