Gov. David Paterson has said he has no plans to return to public office, and he appears to mean it. He quietly filed paperwork last month to start collecting his pension.
The state Comptroller’s Office confirmed Wednesday that the outgoing Democratic governor filed his retirement paperwork on Nov. 17, making him eligible to start collecting his pension in 2011.
The office has yet to calculate his exact pension figure, but preliminary estimates indicate he’s eligible for a pension up to $80,000 a year in retirement.
But because Paterson, who is 56, is retiring before the full-retirement age of 62, his actual pension will be prorated and is expected to be less.
Paterson, 56, has earned about 27 years of pension credits, according to the Comptroller’s Office. He was first elected to the state Senate in 1985, after a stint in the Queens District Attorney’s Office, and was elected as lieutenant governor in 2006. He succeeded Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2008 after Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal.
“He’s been in public service for over two decades and leaving office at the end of this year,” said Jessica Bassett, the governor’s spokeswoman. “It’s a benefit he earned during that time in his service to the people of New York.”
As governor, Paterson earned $179,000 a year. The salary of lieutenant governor is $151,500.
By taking his retirement now, Paterson’s pension will be less than if he waited until age 62, which would afford him the full retirement benefit.
After a tumultuous time in office, Paterson announced in February he would not seek a full term. He has said in recent weeks that he will take some time to figure out his next career move.
“I have been sincerely flattered by the opportunity to serve in this leadership position over the last three years,” Paterson said Wednesday during an editorial board meeting with Democrat and Chronicle.
“I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life.”
Here’s his 90-minute interview today with the Democrat and Chronicle.