More Pension Fun

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Today’s Globe has two stories on pensions today.

In the first, it reports that the Board of Higher Ed has changed its policy to include housing allowances in the calculation of pension benefits for its college presidents. Former UMASS president Bulger won his court case on this matter, so it appears that the board really had no choice. But the whole matter prompts some questions:

  • How did we get into the practice of paying housing allowances in the first place? I’ve heard several times that this is ‘standard practice’, but the Globe reports:

Last year, the American Council on Education surveyed 2,148 public and private college presidents nationwide and found that 20 percent received housing allowances and 28 percent lived in university-provided residences.

  • And if one receives a ‘housing allowance’ but doesn’t use it, how is this different from compensation? The articles suggests (but is not clear) that Jack Wilson has not used the housing allowance to procure new housing. Nor did Bulger during his tenure. If this is really just additional compensation, shouldn’t we be transparent about that?

Also, old friend Charles Lincoln beat the mail fraud rap on his massive gaming of the pension system. He’s left with two civil suits (and a $130,000 per year) to console himself with.

Read all about Officer Lincoln and others in our report on pension loopholes.