A county official — not a double-dipper — encourages me to mention what is nothing but plain fact. Double dipping is rampant throughout the ranks of state government — and legal.

Teachers got on the train early with the T-drop retirement programs that allowed them to take retirement, but then continue to work while accumulating retirement earnings as well as a regular salary. The idea was that it was incentive to keep experienced people from retiring.

When retired employees go back on public payrolls, there are also savings possible in some jobs because the state is no longer required to make a contribution to retirement plans.

The practice has spread through enabling legislation to every cranny of state employment. A number of highly paid state agency heads are drawing retirement and regular pay. You’ll find them in Finance and Administration, the prisons, the State Police, etc.

This has not been a secret. It is legal. It remains a legitimate subject of discussion..

The new wrinkle I wrote about yesterday and earlier today is much different. It’s the ofen secret and, in some cases, arguably fraudulent practice of county officials suspending pay checks briefly to qualify for a retirement check without legally terminating their employment.

 I’m told the Democrat-Gazette has a project in the works on the extent of active public employees who are also drawing retirement. I’d bet it’s an eye-opening number. But an impediment is the Public Employees Retirement System’s belief that the FOI doesn’t extend to identifying the status of people in its system — active employee or on retirement benefits.

My first immediate interest is an accounting of elected officials who’ve qualified for retirement without properly vacating their jobs first. Voters deserve to know before the next election.