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PERS rule allows for benefits while in Legislature

PERS rule allows for benefits while in Legislature
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The Mississippi State Capitol
Kobee Vance

A change in Mississippi's pension fund means retired state employees can serve in the Mississippi Legislature and still collect their pension. MPB's Kobee Vance reports.

Mississippi government retirees can continue collecting pension benefits while also being paid to serve in the Legislature. This rule change was made this month by the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System, or PERS. Ray Higgins is the Executive Director. He says the longstanding rule was that state elected officials could not receive salaries and pension benefits at the same time.

"In the past, may have been prohibited. Not prohibited from serving in the legislature, because they could serve int he Legislature, but they may have to turn back to active service to do that. Whereas in this case, they could, under certain parameters, could serve in the Legislature and maintain their retirement."

Nancy Loome is with The Parents Campaign, a nonprofit supporting educators in Mississippi. She says the change will open the door for educators to hold legislative office.

"What that means is that we will have people who understand what happens in our classrooms. What our teachers and students need from the legislature to be successful. It is going to yield better education policy."

Higgins says the IRS has not affirmed the ruling yet, but PERS did receive word that an affirmative ruling is expected around the start of the new year. IRS approval is needed in order for PERS to maintain its tax-exempt status.