Friday, December 07, 2007

Yet Another Lawmaker Calls It Quits

For the umpteenth time this year, a state legislator has announced she is resigning her seat before the end of her term. This time, it is Rep. Mae Dickinson (D-Indianapolis). The 74-year-old says she wants to spend more time with her family and to work on personal projects. I'm not buying that reason for one second. This slew of lawmakers have been stepping down to take advantage of the health insurance for life benefits which supposedly ended at the end of July. As I reported earlier, a source claimed the House leadership decided lawmakers could qualify for the life-time benefits as long as their retirement took effect before the end of this year, even if their retirement didn't take effect in July.

State legislators earn all of their regular pay for the year up front. If they retire before the end of the year like so many lawmakers have done this year, they still get to keep the salary they already were paid. Isn't it time to make legislators pay back this money when they resign their seats before the end of the year. For God's sakes, House members are elected to a 2-year term. If they can't commit to serve a full term, then they shouldn't run in the first place. By quitting before the end of their term, they allow an unelected person to fill out the remainder of their term who is chosen by precinct committee persons. This year, pure greed has driven most of these retirements. The taxpayers will be paying the cost of these early retirements for many years to come by having to pay the retired members and their spouses lifetime health insurance benefits.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Their may be real health issues here my friend. Go easy. Mae is a most effective representative and a wonderful person. God bless her and keep her well. She will be missed

Wilson46201 said...

Why are you always looking for something negative about folk, AI ? Representative Mae Dickinson worked for years at Chevrolet and was an active member of UAW Local #23. She's a proud GM retiree with probably better benefits than Indiana Legislators get. I doubt very seriously if Statehouse benefits are necessary for her.

garyj said...

It's not the money, Wilson. It's the principle.
If the rep doesn't finish out the year, they should have to pay back a pro-rated amount.
I admit that I haven't followed state reps this year, but have any "R"s calle dit quits early? They should pay back as well.

Too many politicians take advantage of the system and need to be held accountable.

Question for Wilson... Did she accept or reject the benifits?

B said...

I concur "greed" re: the health insurance benefits probably drove some who retired (think middle-aged family types). But with Rep. Dickinson that would be surprising. I don't think she's going out to get another job, and her loss of legislative pay for even a year would not seem to be a good trade for health insurance benefits for someone of her age.

Health insurance doesn't tend to be a driving factor for people who are Medicare eligible. Medicare is as good or better than most private insurace for patients. Also, the legislators health insurance, while something of a scam vis-a-vis lifetime, ex-wives, etc, it was never "free"-- ex-legislators still had to pay the same premiums as a state employee. The benefit was just that they got to participate in the group plan, which was a pretty sweet but affordable plan until recently. For someone of 74, you can get Medicare Supplemental Ins. for Rx's for much less. And she may have had supplemental retiree benefits from GM anyway (though, again, those type of retiree benefits were really only valuable to people who are retired but still under age 65).

So, it would not make sense to me that of all the legislators who took this deal, she would be amont them.

Anonymous said...

My dad is a 38-year GM retiree...his benefits were slashed this year, and they're getting seriously lashed again this year.

But why can't folks commit to a lousy two-year term?

It's odd, isn't it? Mae is retiring before she should, and Julia dind't retire when she should.

They have very odd priorities.

Advance Indiana said...

As usual, Wilson wants it both ways when a member of his party is involved. No, Julia shouldn't be expected to resign her seat even though her declining health has kept her away from doing her job for months. And Mae should be able to walk off the job as she pleases. If she didn't retire for the health benefit, she likely retired to allow a chosen successor to step in and take over the job without facing the voters. Either it way, it's a slap in the face at voters to walk out on the job in the middle of the term short of dire health problems. We've had legislators quit to take jobs as lobbyists, to take jobs in other states and to simply retire for the sake of retiring this year. I suspect you would be hard- pressed to find another year in the history of the legislature when so many lawmakers quit before the end of their term.

Advance Indiana said...

And Medicare doesn't cover everything. Supplemental insurance is necessary, and it can be fairly expensive.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe these mean attacks on Mae. She has worked hard for years for her community. She may have some real issues. I have a parent who is a GM retiree. GM pays the supplemental insurance after medicare and there is only a $5 co pay on prescriptions. Yes, there was a renegotiation on retiree insurance. The supplement insurance and prescription drug insurance is now $22 a month istead of free. Mae does not need the state medical coverage so if she has a personal reason to resign then I accept it. Leave her alone.

Wilson46201 said...

The GM retiree benefits that Rep. Mae Dickinson has are designed to work in concert with Medicare so that no supplemental insurance plans are necessary. She's also a widow so survivor benefits aren't important.

Mae is quite remarkable in that both her husband and father-in-law were State Reps elected from South Bend. The Dickinsons (Valjean and Mae) moved to Indianapolis and Mae built up on her own a political machine and got elected herself in her own right. She was also the primary plaintiff of the lawsuit that demolished Indiana's "multiple-member" districts.

I always kidded her that she dressed like a fancy Republican lady but voted like the best Democrat ever!

Anonymous said...

Check into this, Gary. Rumor has it that Mae felt sorry for Ron Gibson because he's out of a job. She wants him to take her place.

Anonymous said...

AI, wrong on this one. I won't argue with you about the premise of your commits but you can not put Mae in this category. Sorry.

Wilson46201 said...

It is most highly unlikely that Mae Dickinson would be supporting
Ron Gibson as her successor. Extremely unlikely.

Paul Bateman is from her geographic area and was a lobbyist at the Statehouse for the UAW for many years - it wouldn't surprise me if he didn't go for it. Just a guess on my part...

Anonymous said...

And a good one Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Bateman has been on Carl Drummer's payroll doing nothing but political work. His appointment would make sense.

Anonymous said...

Yep. It's Bateman. Another Center hack.

(Sigh) I was hoping for something better.

6:43: I don't know what your parents are telling you, but you'd better get out their insurance files and puruse them. The National GM contract recently negotiated, has set in motion all kinds of premium cost-shifting. It isn't pretty, although retiree insurance is still affordable, it's far more than they ever thought they'd pay.

And it's not $22.

It was so company-friendly that Wall Street analysts immediately upgradede GM stock to "buy" after the pact was agreed. It was viewed as that much of a bottom-line assist, to the GM management.

Perhaps varying local unions did different add-ons and deducts. But my dad, who retired in 1999, is paying a lot of money he never thought he'd havhe to pay.

Just sayin'.

Wilson46201 said...

Like Jocelyn Tandy working for Dwayne Brown?

Advance Indiana said...

On Bateman, there was a finding in the EEOC judgment against the Marion County Coroner in favor of former Chief Deputy Coroner John Linehan which referenced the fact that Bateman continually sent names of AAs he wanted the Coroner's Office to hire for no other reason than the color of their skin.

Anonymous said...

Notice that WIlson didn't answer the question posed to hi?

Did she accept the benefits from the state, or not?

Wilson46201 said...

Rev. Paul Bateman is also a pastor - good ones are constantly trying to find employment for the jobless ... Bateman's church is predominantly African-American.

Anonymous said...

First, this district is Lawrence Twp not Center so the unkind comment about Center is not even true. I understand that John Batlett may be in the best position to replace her. No one feels sorry for that drunk abusive Ron Gibson. He got what he deserved.

Anonymous said...

John would be a possible pick and will of course have union support and financial help for 208 election.

Anonymous said...

Uhm.. haven't some Repugs resigned in mid-term as well this time? Maybe they just don't have the stomach for the coming property tax fight.. time for a new generation.

Better than term limits...

Anonymous said...

"Rev. Paul Bateman is also a pastor - good ones are constantly trying to find employment for the jobless ... Bateman's church is predominantly African-American."

And this has what to do with his possible candidacy for legislature?

He works for Drummer. That's really about all you need to know.

Anonymous said...

Senator Trent Lott R- Ms just resigned less than two years into a 6 year term......Rep Dennis Hastert R-Il just resigned in his first year of a two year term as representative.....but they are repubicans and are entitled to special privileges.
Good riddance to both of them.

Angry Republican said...

The only republican lawmakers that I can recall that resigned before the end of this term:
Rep. Matt Whetstone
Sen. Vic Heinold

The Democrat list would be:
Rep. Kuzman
Rep. Denbo
Rep. Dickinson
Rep. Cheney

Term limits are pointless. Why should my choice be limited because others are too lazy to vote? No, I think voters are good enough at imposing their own term limits.


AR

Advance Indiana said...

anon 8:54, the criticism isn't directed just at Democrats on my part. Hastert's decision to resign his seat has infuriated people within his own party as has Lott. Lott either resigned so he could get around Senate rules barring lobbying for 2 years after you leave the Senate or because of allegations he used the services of a male escort. Neither reason looks good.