Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is blasting Gov. Dannel Malloy\’s nomination of a longtime Democratic political insider for a judgeship where he will eventually qualify for a pension of more than $100,000 per year.
Malloy nominated former state Senator Anthony Avallone, who turns 67 later this year and would qualify for a six-figure pension after reaching the age of 70. The state pension rules for judges are far more lucrative than for other state employees, and the pension is available regardless of how long the person serves as a judge. The nominations are for an 8-year term, but the mandatory retirement age is 70.
Superior Court judges are paid more than $150,000 annually, and their pensions amount to two-thirds of their salary.
“This nomination is symptomatic of two major problems with our state government,\’\’ Foley said Friday. “First, it is another example of how ordinary citizens are getting larger-than-warranted tax bills heaped on them because of the system of political favors that Governor Malloy has implemented at the Capitol. Governor Malloy should either withdraw his nomination of Mr. Avallone or secure an agreement that he will decline or substantially reduce the extra pension benefit resulting from his very short appointment.\’\’
But Malloy\’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, responded, \”It sounds to me like Tom Foley is saying we should take a person’s age into consideration when making appointments, which would be a violation of state and federal law.\’\’
Foley continued, “Second, the fact that this situation could even occur in the year 2014 shows that the state government’s pension system is broken and it shows why our state and its taxpayers are broke. It is representative of Governor Malloy’s unwillingness to address difficult spending issues like pension reform – an issue that Governor Malloy continues to sweep under the rug leaving an even bigger problem for his successors and the citizens to deal with.
“Being a judge is one of the most honorable and important positions in public service,\’\’ Foley said. \”Such a nomination should not be used to repay political favors by paving the way to a gold-plated pension using taxpayers’ money.”
Avallone was a fixture in the state Senate for 10 years, serving as co-chairman of the influential judicary committee and developing a friendship with one of the most powerful senators at the time, William DiBella of Hartford.
But House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk said that Avallone should not be punished because of the broader problems with the pension system.
\”We have to distinguish the system from the person,\’\’ Cafero told Capitol Watch on Friday. \”Is the system right when a person can get a full pension after three years? The answer to that is no. … But you cannot blame Tony Avallone. The system needs to be changed. This poor guy\’s name is in the middle of it. He didn\’t negotiate a personal services agreement.\’\’
Cafero added, \”Change the rules. Don\’t malign the man.\’\’
No other state employees can work for three or four years and receive a pension of more than $100,000 per year.
\”That\’s crazy,\’\’ Cafero said, \”but it ain\’t Tony Avallone\’s fault.\’\’