Report: Retired professors double-dipping on the taxpayers’ dime

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At least 25 retired professors from the University of California (UC) are receiving pensions of at least $300K, but that isn’t all they earn from the financially troubled university system.  Eight of them were also “recalled” by UC, meaning that they are teaching again, and they have a new salary, too.

Known as recalled retirees, they “double-dip” on a salary and a pension. Public documents obtained by the California Policy Center (CPC) show that of the 25 highest pension earners from UC, the highest caps out at $385K per year, for life.

“Under certain restrictions, once you retire, the university can call you back, pay you a new salary, while you also get your full retirement benefits,” said CPC’s Director of Policy Research, Marc Joff.

One case CPC presents is recalled retiree Dr. Fawzy I. Fawzy.  He earned nearly $369K in pension benefits from UC in 2014, and also received a $300K salary from them in 2015, totaling close to $669K in payments.

Joff doesn’t like the practice, especially considering UC’s financial woes.

For instance, in late April, an audit revealed that UC was overestimating its budget needs. It was requesting more state funding and placing the excess in a slush fund amounting to over  $175 million. Former Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano heads up the UC, which operates 10 campuses across the state.

Napolitano says that the fund only has $38 million in it, or around 10 percent of the office’s operating and administration budget.  She calls the saving account “a prudent and reasonable amount for unexpected expenses.”

Also under Napolitano, the UC has been accused of excessive salaries and benefits. To add insult to injury, the UC was seeking tuition hikes of 2.5 percent.

CPS requested the release of public records concerning salaries at UC, a request that should have taken 10 days to fulfill. Instead, Joff says it took 6 months to get them.

Once in hand, Joff was critical about what they revealed. “It seems inappropriate for people to be extracting very large benefits from a state and from a university that has so much debt,” he said.

Although UC now offers a reduced package for those hired after July 2016, it is still paying out huge benefits yearly.

Joff suggests that 25 retirees earning more that $300K a year for life is too many.  He says there should either be a cap or a tax for public pensioners that receive a very high benefit, especially considering many in the universities are concerned with income inequality.  He challenges them to “practice what you preach.”

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