The $64,000 question — “What is Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s annual state pension” — now has a $64,000 answer.
The scandal-plagued legislator is collecting a monthly pension of $5,386.16 — or $64,634 per year — on top of his $92,000 yearly salary, according to state records that were released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Law.
In other words, Lopez is earning time-and-a-half while on the job as the people’s representative in Albany.
He’ll close out 2011 with an income topping $156,000.
And it’s all legal.
Lopez, 69, is one of 10 lawmakers who filed his “retirement” papers on Dec. 31 in order to collect the extra moolah — thanks to a little-known state loophole that allows officeholders over the age of 64 to legally collect their pensions while still on the job.
The cancer-stricken lawmaker defended the practice in an exclusive interview with The Brooklyn Paper last year, explaining that he applied for his pension to take care of his family if his health rapidly declined.
“I’m very comfortable with my rationale and I’ve explained that to you,” said Lopez. “My obligation is to my family and to my health.”
Lopez has been combatting a recurrence of cancer since last summer— forcing him to take a brief leave of absence to treat the illness in October.
And he’s done it all in the shadow of two exhaustive federal probes and a widening city investigation into the finances and board of the nonprofit he founded.