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Rick Perry collects early retirement, owes student loan

December 16, 2011|By Kim Geiger
(REUTERS/Jim Young )

Texas Gov. Rick Perry makes nearly $225,000 a year, but a good chunk of it comes not from his state salary, but from his retirement benefits.

Perry is paid $132,995 to run the state of Texas, but he also collects a monthly annuity of $7,698.96 – more than $92,000 per year – in early retirement, according to disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said the arrangement is “part of [Perry’s] standard financial planning” and “is consistent with Texas state law and Employee Retirement System rules,” citing what’s known as the “rule of 80,” which allows state employees to start drawing on their retirement if their age plus years of service credit totals at least 80.

“The combination of Governor Perry’s U.S. military service, state service and age exceeded the state-required 80 years and qualified him for the annuity,” Sullivan said. Perry, 61, started receiving the annuity on Jan. 31. He continues to pay  a 6.5% withholding from his state salary to the state retirement system, Sullivan said.

Perry has proposed slashing congressional salaries and has repeatedly called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme."

In an interview with ABC News, Perry defended drawing early on his pension: "I think it’d be rather foolish to not access what you’ve earned."

“That’s been in place for decades and I bought my military time and then obviously the 25 years of public service time, so as you reach that age you become eligible for it, so I don’t find that to be, you know, out of the ordinary," he said.

Also in his disclosure report, Perry listed assets, including some land, a life insurance policy and investment funds, worth between $1.16 million and $2.4 million.

His only liability is a 2006 student loan for between $100,000 and $250,000 with an interest rate of 3.875%. A second student loan with a higher interest rate – 8.25% -- was paid in full earlier this year.

Sullivan said the loan was used to send Perry’s son Griffin to Vanderbilt.

Until August, Perry held a number of stocks and municipal bonds in a blind trust. Perry liquidated the trust when he declared his candidacy for president because it did not qualify as a federal blind trust.

The holdings “have been largely liquidated into cash or cash equivalents,” Sullivan said.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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