MO judges may get salary boost after all

Missouri’s compensation system for most elected officials is fairly straightforward: the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials makes a recommendation which goes into effect unless overridden by two-thirds of the legislature by a set date. In 2009 it was in fact overridden (HCR 5) and things looked less than promising when the Senate Rules committee appeared last week to reject the increases in light of the economy. However, in a twist, the Senate Rules committee on a 4-3 vote rejected advancing a resolution of disapproval (SCR 3). Moreover, the Commission’s policy to set state judicial salaries as a fixed percentage of federal salaries appears to have gained legislative support.

However, according to the Associated Press, money for the raises would have to be included in the state budget. The leader of the state Senate’s Republican majority says he hopes lawmakers won’t fund them.

Judicial Retirement Plans/Pensions: Missouri

A reader alerts me to Missouri SB 714 which creates an entirely different retirement plan for any judge entering service on or after January 1, 2011.

Judges will be required to reach age sixty-seven and have at least twelve years of service or reach age sixty-two and have twenty years of service before they are eligible for normal retirement. If a judge retires at age sixty-seven with less than twelve years of service, or at sixty-two with less than twenty years service, their retirement compensation will be reduced proportionately. Judges in this retirement plan will be required to contribute four percent of their compensation to the retirement system. Judges will not be able to purchase credit in the retirement plan for their past non-federal full-time public employment or their military service. Judges under this plan who continue to work after their normal retirement date will not have cost-of-living increases added to their retirement compensation for the period of time between their eligibility for retirement and their actual retirement date. When a retired judge under this plan dies, their beneficiary will not receive an amount equal to fifty percent of the judge’s retirement compensation. Instead, judges will make a choice at retirement among the benefit payment options, that includes options for the amount received by the beneficiary. The employee contribution rate, the benefits under the judicial retirement plan, and any other provision of the judicial retirement plan may be altered, amended, increased, decreased, or repealed, but such change will only apply to service or interest credits after the effective date of the change.

This act prohibits a retired judge who becomes employed after January 1, 2011, as an employee eligible to participate in the Missouri State Employees Retirement System retirement plan from receiving their judicial retirement benefits while they are employed. Any judge who serves as a judge while he or she is receiving their judicial retirement is prohibited from receiving their judicial retirement while serving as a judge. A judge who serves as a senior judge or senior commissioner while receiving judicial retirement will continue to receive judicial retirement and additional credit and salary for their service.