MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that he believes he exceeded his campaign promise to voluntarily pay the full cost of his pension starting in January, even though he didn’t start contributing until the law required him to do so in August.
The Associated Press first reported on Friday that Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who made the same promise during last year’s campaign, did not start making the payments until eight months into their term. That’s when the law Walker backed forcing state workers to pay more, while also taking away nearly all their collective bargaining rights, took effect.
That law required elected officials like Walker and Kleefisch to pay 6.65 percent of their salaries starting in August. That goes up to 7.05 percent in January. State employees have to pay 5.8 percent.
During the campaign, Walker said if elected he would immediately voluntarily pay the same amount he was proposing that state workers contribute, which at that time was estimated to be 5 percent.
Under the higher contribution required under the law, Walker will ultimately pay more than $5,000 more toward his pension than if he paid 5 percent over four years. Because of that, Walker said, he believes he exceeded the campaign promise.
“I think I exceeded it,” he said. “In the end I’m paying five grand more for my pension.”
Walker said timing the beginning of his payments to when state workers had to make theirs in August made sense.
“To me I could have paid back then at a lesser amount, 5 percent, which means I’d pay about $5,000 less,” Walker said. “It wouldn’t be a parallel with the match that we asked for public employees. This allowed me to parallel that.”
Over four years Walker will pay $34,108. Had he been paying 6.5 percent of his salary during the seven months he was making no voluntary contributions as he promised during the campaign, he would pay an additional $5,600.
Walker said he would not pay that amount back.
Democrats and union leaders have branded Walker as a hypocrite.
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