Kennedy continues quest for more pension info

State Treasurer John Kennedy continued pressing Monday for information about the circumstances surrounding the last-minute legislative passage of a pension boost for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson.

Kennedy also requested key players in the benefit becoming law appear at the Sept. 4 meeting of the Louisiana State Police Retirement System board, including Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive counsel Thomas Enright, who approved the legislation for the governor’s signature.

The law that created the enhancement for Edmonson and another veteran trooper was tacked on to legislation that had nothing to do with retirement benefits. And attorneys for the pension board recently concluded the action violated the constitution because, among other issues, proper notice was not given that the change would be proposed and the pension provision was added to legislation that had nothing to do with retirement law.

Kennedy said he wanted to know Enright’s opinion.

Kennedy’s requests came in a letter to the retirement board’s executive director Irwin Felps and board chairman Frank Besson, president of the Louisiana State Troopers Association.

Felps was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Monday. A message left for Besson was not returned.

Edmonson and Master Trooper Louis Boquet, of Houma, are the only two pension system members covered by the change, which deals with their decision years ago to participate in the old Deferred Retirement Option Plan.

After controversy erupted, Edmonson said he would not accept the benefit and would return the issue to the Legislature.

The size of the added benefit for the two has not been released by the pension board. However, the legislative actuary put the costs to the system at $300,000 over time.

Kennedy, a pension board member, sought information on all of the costs of the legislation to the system and its members as well as the costs if the same benefit increase was granted to all troopers and dependents.

Under the old rules, a trooper had to make a decision whether to enter DROP when he or she reached 25 years of service or 50 years of age.

DROP allowed troopers to continue to work even though they were eligible for retirement.

The downside was the troopers didn’t get full credit in their pension checks if they started receiving higher salaries after entering DROP.

In Edmonson’s case, he took DROP as a captain. As a result of the law change, Edmonson would be able to receive lifelong pension payments based on the calculation of his higher colonel’s pay of $135,000 a year. That’s more than he would have received at captain’s pay, where it was frozen because of his DROP decision.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the State Capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.