Thursday, February 09, 2006

Earth To Garton

If there is a single issue that will bring Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton's more than three decades of public service to an abrupt end, it is the health care for life legislative perk he and his colleagues gave themselves a few years ago. To the glee of his primary and potential general election opponents, he simply doesn't get it.

The Indiana Law Blog picks up on a story that ran in his hometown newspaper, the Republic in Columbus. While acknowledging that the benefit is a "fringe benefit", Garton attacked the critics of the perk:

“Why it’s being characterized as it is, I don’t know,” he said. “There are editors around the state of Indiana that have no idea” of the realities facing lawmakers. “Most of us (legislators) carry two full-time responsibilities,” Garton said.

The Republic notes that Garton has authority to alter the plan for Senators and will likely announce some changes within the next two weeks. Possible changes include "bringing down premiums for retired Senate staffers so they have the same benefit as senators; adapting to changes in Medicare; and looking at the percent of premium paid."

"In short, according to Garton, the current health care perks will continue in the Senate, for retired legislators and staff and those who retire in future years, with minor, if any, changes," the Indiana Law Blog said. The blog also notes that the Republic runs an editorial today entitled, "Legislative Health Plan Has Black Eye." This appears to the be the first time Garton's hometown newspaper has weighed in on the debate according to the Indiana Law Blog.

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