Friday, August 31, 2007

State Senate Bill would let a quarter of Michigan State Workers retire early

Thousands of veteran state workers - more than 25 percent of them - could get enhanced pension benefits under an early retirement bill that passed the Michigan State Senate on Thursday.

The Senate voted 21-16 for the measure, which Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop said would shrink government and help resolve the state's budget crisis.

However, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm remains strongly opposed to an early retirement program.

"An early out will result in more children left unprotected, more gas pumps and bridges left uninspected, fewer state police patrolling our roads," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

Under the early retirement plan, state workers would be eligible if their age and years of service add up to at least 75.

Currently workers must be at least 55 years old with 30 years of service or 60 years old with 10 years of service for full retirement benefits.

The plan sweetens the retirement benefit by increasing the pension formula by 16.7 percent. It is similar to plans offered several times in the past.

Pensions would be based on years of service multiplied by the worker's final average salary times 1.75 percent - up from the current factor of 1.5 percent.

Whether there are savings will depend on how many workers retire and how many are replaced.

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