Public retirement system changes unveiled; parties haggle over details
May 19, 2009
Public retirement benefits will get more austere under compromise legislation introduced in the Senate Tuesday.
SB427 will slow the rate at which state workers earn their retirement, including police-fire employees, and make younger retirees work longer before they can leave with full retirement benefits. Changes would apply only to public workers hired after Jan. 1, 2010.
But it’s not a done deal.
Republicans still want more concessions in those two areas. But Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, agreed there is general agreement on the other provisions in the bill.
For years, public workers earned retirement at a rate of 2.5 percent of the average of their three highest paid years in state service. That was increased in 2001 to 2.67 percent.
SB427 rolls it back to 2.5 percent. Republicans want it cut back more than that.
Currently, public workers can retire at 65 if they have at least five years of service, 60 if they have at least 10 years of service and at any age after 30 years of service. The bill would change the law so those with 10 years would have to wait until at least age 62.
Hardy wants a further change so that even with 30 years or more in service, workers would have to wait until at least age 62. Actuaries have said that will save public retirement plans millions of dollars in the future.
A similar change is proposed for police-fire employees, who can now retire at 55 with 10 years of service, 50 with 20 years service and any age with 25 years. The bill would require police-fire workers to wait until 60 with 10 years service and 55 with 20 years in.
The bill eliminates the ability of police-fire employees to retire at any age after 25 years service.
SB427 also increases the financial penalty for retiring earlier than those limits from 4 percent for each year to 6 percent.
Existing law allows a police-fire employee’s spouse to get half their retirement benefit upon their death once the spouse reaches 50 years of age. The bill would eliminate that survivor’s benefit for workers hired after January 1.
The bill also tightens how much “call-back pay” can be counted in determining a retiree’s retirement compensation.
SB427 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for study.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.