Local legislators are among those in Harrisburg who would like to slap the fingers of retired state workers who've been "triple dipping" benefits by filing for unemployment.

Current law allows the retirees, who are collecting pensions, to be granted unemployment after they leave temporary state jobs.

So in addition to their pensions, they receive compensation from the work they did for the state followed by unemployment when they leave, said Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland/York.

Vance's legislation to stop the practice recently passed the Senate 49-1. Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township, was a cosponsor, and all senators with York jurisdiction voted for it.

Vance said the retired state workers are "just robbing the taxpayers, plain and simple"

Some state agencies hire back retirees as annuitants for special projects or to train new employees, she said. Because they can only work 95 days per year to remain eligible for their pensions, current unemployment law considers them "involuntarily terminated" from their jobs when they leave, Vance said.

"It's just plain wrong," she said. "A state employee brought it to my attention and said it's not fair and, 'Why is this allowed?' It's not just the pension. It's that they can come back and work for 95 and get paid ... it's not like you have no income. You can work to supplement that pension."

She said the retirees weren't using the money as a safety net, but rather taking it "because they could."

Over the past three years, 638 retiree annuitants collected $2.77 million in unemployment, according to date provided by Vance's office.

Similar bill: Vance's bill, which would make people who voluntarily leave employment to prevent a reduction in their pension or other benefits ineligible for unemployment, went to the House for consideration.

The House voted unanimously to pass a similar "triple dipping" bill from Rep. C. Adam Harris, R-Juniata/Mifflin/Snyder earlier this year. It's waiting for traction in the Senate.

The law change is likely, it's just a matter of whose bill becomes law first, said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover.

"This was probably just an oversight that we recently found out about," he said. "You're already collecting a pension. To go back and collect unemployment compensation. ... is just over and above."

He said it's common-sense reform, just like his proposal to prevent people who are in prison from receiving unemployment.

It's helpful to save every bit of money possible for those who truly need it, he said.

Vance said she's hoping either chamber furthers a bill, getting it to the governor's desk by June.

"I'm just hoping it gets passed into law, regardless of whose bill it is," she said.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.