Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will be allowed to "double dip" — collecting both her state salary and her pension — starting early next year, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed Friday.
Etue, who had a 2016 salary of $155,000 and appears eligible for a pension of more than $80,000, is facing calls for her resignation over a racially insensitive meme she shared to her Facebook page last month.
She must retire early next year under the terms of her participation in the Michigan State Police's Deferred Retirement Option Program, known as DROP, officials confirmed.
Snyder, a Republican, has rejected calls to fire Etue.
On Friday, Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said the governor not only will not ask Etue to resign, but he plans to reappoint Etue upon her retirement so she can serve through December 2018, which is the end of Snyder’s final term.
Shanon Banner, a spokeswoman for Etue, said: "At the request of the governor, Col. Etue will remain as director of the Michigan State Police until after the 2018 gubernatorial election."
Double-dipping is controversial and generally not permitted in state employment, but Heaton said there’s a precedent for what Snyder is planning.
The prior administration of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm "set the precedent" with former State Police Director Eddie Washington, Heaton said.
"He collected both an MSP pension and a salary as director from May through January" of 2010, Heaton said. "Our understanding is, the same would apply for Col. Etue after her retirement next summer."
State Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint, head of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, which has called on Etue to resign, said Friday that keeping her until the end of Snyder’s term is a bad idea.
“Now the question becomes: Does the governor not only not punish individuals for poor performance and behavior, but does he enhance it by keeping that individual beyond the DROP program?” Neeley said.
Etue again publicly apologized Thursday for sharing a Facebook post that disparaged as "anti-American degenerates" NFL players who kneel or sit during the pregame national anthem to protest racism and police killings of unarmed black men. But she said she has no plans to resign, despite calls to do so by the Legislative Black Caucus, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and several other groups and lawmakers.
"Obviously, my comment on a personal Facebook post was very offensive, and I am truly sorry," Etue said after a meeting with members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, held in the governor's ceremonial office in the Capitol. "That was never my intent."
Etue, who became State Police director in January 2011, was eligible for full retirement benefits in 2012, when she completed her 25th year of service. But she stayed on under DROP, a special incentive program designed to encourage senior staffers to continue working even after they max out their pensions.
Under DROP, staffers continue to work at full salary and benefits. While they do, the state deposits a percentage of the pension benefit they would have collected if they had retired into an account that pays 3% annual interest.
The percentage of their pension benefit that flows into that account starts at 30% for the first year and grows each year they stay. If they stay the maximum the program allows — six years — they would receive 100% of the pension payment in the sixth year.
That money from the DROP account can be provided to them in a lump-sum when they retire.
For State Police employees who work 25 years or more, the pension plan provides them with 60% of their final average compensation, defined as the average compensation their final two years of service before they enrolled in DROP. Any unused sick or vacation time cashed in at retirement can boost the final average compensation beyond their set salary.
In Etue's case, the final two years before entering DROP would be 2011 and 2012, when her salary would have been about $140,000, based on state records. That would qualify Etue for an annual pension of about $84,000.
The pension plan includes an annual 2% cost-of-living allowance.
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