Lawmaker Proposes Cutting Benefits for Legislators, Governors

Lawmaker Proposes Cutting Benefits for Legislators, Governors

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The legislator who led the fight to cut back retired state employees' health-care benefits is proposing similar cuts for legislators and governors.

Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, said tightening up lawmakers' own health-care retirement benefits is only fair.

His proposed legislation would do away with health-care retirement benefits for legislators and governors.

"Sounds like this is Dave Clark's own (legislative) term limits bill," said Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price.

"I'd seriously have to consider retiring" from the Legislature in order to continue getting health-care benefits in the future, said Dmitrich, 68.

Clark's HB213, passed last session, reduced the ability of retiring state employees to convert their unused sick leave into post-retirement health-care premiums.

HB213 gave state employees a year grace period under the old retirement formula, and it appears that a number of them will take early retirement before January.

Legislators have much more generous benefits.

In 1998 the Legislature voted to pay the health-care premiums for retired legislators for the lifetime of the legislator and for the lifetime of his or her spouse. Any minor children of a retired legislator are covered until they reach 18. So that current legislative benefit is even more generous than what had been provided to state employees.

Clark says his bill would allow legislators who retire before January 2007 to get health insurance for life for themselves and their spouses.

"From the perspective of my own conscience, morally this is the right thing to do. We need to let the state employees know that we (in the Legislature) are tightening our own belts, too," Clark said.

Clark said he did not run for the Legislature expecting or wanting the state to pick up his health care when he retired. "And no other legislator I know did."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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