CHARLESTON - The state officials who are retiring to use a loophole that allows them to collect both their salaries and pensions will likely be the last to do so.
Gov. Joe Manchin said Wednesday that ending the practice some have termed "double-dipping" will be a top priority if he is re-elected in November, and said he has the backing of lawmakers, according to a report in the Charleston Daily Mail.
Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Charles King and Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson both recently retired and are running unopposed in the election. By retiring now and being elected later, it will allow them to draw from their pensions on top of earning their salaries.
Ferguson, 71, said a high percentage of people his age are "either retired or deceased."
"As you grow older, you become more aware your days on this earth are growing shorter and shorter," Ferguson said, according to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
"No one knows what the future will bring, for we have no promises tomorrow."
Summers County Magistrate William Jeffries is also retiring and planning a return.
"I think the reason people are upset about this is, basically, over the appearance of unfairness in the political process," Manchin said in a Charleston Gazette report.
"They feel like they took advantage of the safeness of these seats, by having no opposition."
King was the first to resign this year, submitting his letter Oct. 10.
"I am deeply grateful to the people of Kanawha County for having afforded me the opportunity and honor to serve as Circuit Judge of Kanawha County for the last twenty years," King wrote in a letter addressed to Kanawha County Commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores, as well as other county leaders.