Assemblywoman Joan Millman has backed off a pledge to stop taking her public school teacher’s pension — and instead slammed her challenger for linking her to so-called “double-dipping” lawmakers who draw their state legislative pensions even as they work at the state house.
The 13-year lawmaker had said in an Aug. 20 debate that she would defer her pension if she could — but this week angrily rejected the pledge.
“Double-dipping is collecting a pension and a salary for the same job, which [Millman] does not do,” the assemblywoman’s spokesman, Paul Nelson, said.
Millman herself was unavailable to talk about her comment during the Community Newspaper Group debate last week, when she said that she would have deferred taking the $48,000-$52,000 annual pension when she got elected in 1997 if that option “had been offered to me at the time.”
“I had already put in my paperwork,” said Millman, who makes $92,000 as a state legislator. “You can’t rescind it.”
The truth is that Millman could have deferred then — and could still defer now. All she had to do was file a “Retirement Allowance Suspension/Resumption Form” with the Teachers Retirement System.
What Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) is doing is perfectly legal, but that hasn’t stopped her assembly challenger, Doug Biviano, from railing on her for more than a week since our debate aired on our website.
“Collecting of two government paychecks shows that Assemblywoman Millman is not only out of touch with the community, but cares more about her interests than those of the people she represents,” Biviano said. “She should be protecting the pension system and our over-burdened tax-payers, not abusing them.”
In the debate, Biviano likened Millman’s pension to Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs (D–Midwood) and Harvey Weisenberg (D–Long Island), Albany colleagues who collect their state legislator pensions while still serving in the job of state legislator. The loophole that allows them to do that has since been closed.
Millman’s camp has taken a flogging from Biviano since the debate, but Nelson turned it right back on the challenger.
“Doug believes she shouldn’t be allowed to retire, collect her pension — a pension funded by her money that she’s already deferred while she was a teacher in the public school system, mind you — and have a second career,” he said. “He’s sending a terrible message to senior citizens by telling them that once they retire they should just move to Florida because they’re not needed or welcome here anymore.”