However, the calculation goes haywire when you throw in high salaries or inordinately long years of service (employees with 35 years or more years are basically losing money by working, since their pensions would be more than their take-home pay).
By getting bonus pay as speaker and by turning in essentially a full-time schedule of duty days, Thompson bulked up his 2012 legislative base salary of $20,000 about as high as possible, to draw $62,200.
Most legislators will make about $25,000 a year, counting per-diem pay for interim, extended and special sessions. Judging by the examples above, 12 years is a pretty long tenure for a legislator, which would work out to a state pension of $6,000 a year.
Add three years at a state job making $70,000, and voila, that $6,000 pension becomes $21,000 a year.
Meanwhile, until 1995, the Legislature did not hold interim meetings in the month immediately following the end of a regular session. (Perhaps not coincidentally, legislative per-diem pay doubled that year from $50 to $100.)
Then, as now, during the April (or May, in years after gubernatorial elections) interims, only three of the three-dozen or so interim committees actually meet. Initially, however, the meetings were either scheduled all in one day, or one in the late afternoon and two the next morning.
In the last couple of years, however, the three one-hour meetings have been spread out over three days, ostensibly to make it a little more profitable for those legislators (16 of 134) who serve on any of the three committees.
Members get $150 per diem pay, except $300 a day for the speaker and president, and $200 a day for majority and minority leaders. Additionally, members may claim $131 a day for expenses, or $55 a day if they commute from home.
Four members had meetings on all three days: Senate President Jeff Kessler, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall, House Speaker Rick Thompson and House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White.
Five had meetings on two of three days: Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, Senate Majority Leader John Unger, House Minority Leader Tim Armstead and House Majority Leader Brent Boggs.
Sens. Donna Boley, Robert Plymale, Delegates John Ellem, Patrick Lane, Mike Caputo, Daryl Cowles and Tim Miley each serve on one of the three committees.
By spreading the meetings out over three days, the speaker and president can max out $1,293 in pay and expenses, rather than the $431 they'd be paid if the three meetings were held on the same day.
Not bad for three hours' work.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.