TRENTON – The Senate passed a measure sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner aimed at saving the State millions of dollars by offering retirement incentives to certain state workers.
“In order for us to reduce the cost of State government this year, it was critical for us to reduce the size of State government,” said Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer. “These early retirement benefits will save the State millions of dollars as we reduce our workforce by 1,800 employees without having to reply on layoffs. It’s a fair system that recognizes the tough financial times we face.”
The Senator’s bill, S-2044, would provide additional retirement benefits to certain state workers who apply for retirement between March 1, 2008 and July 15, 2008 and retire by August 1, 2008. The additional benefits would be dependent upon the individual’s age and length of service.
Individuals over the age of 58 with at least 25 years of service would be credited with three additional years of service when calculating their pension amount. Individuals who are at least 60 years of age and have 20 or more years of service would have their health benefits premiums covered by the retirement system. Finally, individuals who are 60 or over with between 10 and 20 years of service would receive an additional monthly pension payment of $500 for the first 24 months after retirement.
“This retirement package will be more effective in saving the State money over the long run because we are targeting it towards certain departments and guaranteeing that these jobs won’t simply be refilled by new employees,” explained Senator Turner.
The additional benefits laid out in the bill would be eligible only to members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF). Also, employees of the Department of Human Services, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Corrections, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Office of the Public Defender, and the Department of Children and Families, or the State’s public colleges and universities would not be eligible. Additionally, State Judiciary employees would not be eligible for early retirement benefits unless they have 25 years of service credit.
As part of the Senator’s legislation, the State would not be allowed to fill in more than 10% of the vacancies created by the act. Additionally, any eligible State employee who retires and receives a benefit would not be eligible for employment in any position in the Executive Branch of State government for a period of three years following the effective date of retirement.
The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 22-16 and in the Assembly by a vote of 48-31 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.