Perry officially 'retires' to draw almost $100,000 extra income

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 17 at 2:49 PM

DALLAS - There was a surprise in campaign finance documents filed Friday by Governor Rick Perry, who's campaigning for president in Iowa.

He's retired.

Although Perry is governor until 2015, the records show he officially retired in January to draw nearly $100,000 more a year in pension pay along with his salary.

It may cause him political problems now, as he demands to cut Congress' pay and has left Democrats furious here in Texas.

One of Perry's best applause lines and that he used in Thursday's debate is how he'd overhaul Washington, with cutting Congress' pay among the reforms.

"That's the reason I've called for a part time Congress," Perry told the Sioux City audience. "Cut their pay in half, cut their time in Washington in half, cut their staff in half."

But the criticism may ring hollow after campaign finance documents Perry filed with the Federal Election Commision (FEC), first reported Friday by the Texas Tribune, show how he quietly boosted his income under the state's retirement system.

Perry officially retired in January, since by doing so, under the pension rules, he can draw a monthly annuity when his age and years of military and state service exceed 80. Perry is 61 years old.

While campaigning Friday in Cherokee, Iowa, Perry said it was completely legal.

"As you reach that age, you become eligible for it, so I don't find that to be out of the ordinary," Perry said.

The FEC documents show in addition to his gross annual salary, which is $150,000, Perry now gets a monthly annuity of almost $7,700, boosting his annual gross income to $242,000.

"You know I think it would be rather foolish to not access what you've earned," Perry said.

The disclosure angered Texas Democrats who said in a statement, "Somehow this Republican budget doesn't have room to pay teachers but they can give Rick Perry a $100 thousand dollar pay raise. If Perry wants retirement benefits he should do us all a favor and actually retire. Giving himself a raise while thousands of teachers are losing their jobs is unconscionable."

Perry's disclosure comes as he makes a big final push in Iowa urging Republican voters to give him another look after his poll numbers fell to the 10-percent range.

He's telling voters he's a Washington "outsider" who'd reform Social Security, and the longtime government plan but critics may pick up that the pension play is the kind of maneuver insiders pull.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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