HONOLULU (AP) - Fifty-nine Hawaii retirees each receive more than $100,000 in government-funded pensions, but their identities are being kept confidential by state law.
According to statistics obtained via a public records request, three of the 59 collect more than $125,000 but less than $150,000, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday. Because the newspaper was unable to obtain their names, it could not determine whether any are so-called double dippers who collect a state pension while getting a state or county paycheck.
At least 16 other states make their pension information public.
The Employees' Retirement System, the agency that administers benefits to Hawaii retirees or beneficiaries, said state law prohibits disclosing individual's payout benefits.
The agency disclosed limited statistics about state and county retirees whose pensions exceeded their base pay - at least 20 who retired in 2008 and 2009. According to statistics provided, 3,161 retirees were receiving annual pensions of $50,000 or more as of Jan. 31, a nearly 20 percent increase from 10 months earlier.
"It is a trend that we are concerned about given the growing pension and unfunded liabilities," said Wes Machida, system administrator.
Watchdog groups and open-government advocates say retiree pensions should be public because they're funded with public money.
"When that amount of money is being spent, it's important for the public to know who those people are," said David Greene, a San Francisco attorney whose firm represents the First Amendment Coalition.
Hawaii continues to rely on a 1990 Office of Information Practices opinion that concluded retirement amounts are confidential.
"I'm stunned that in the year 2012 this kind of information is not available," said Edward Zelinsky, a law professor and pension expert at the Cardozo School of Law in New York. "This is the public's business."