Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ohio Governor Proposes Early Retirements

Early retirement packages may soon be offered to longtime state employees. Governor Ted Strickland has asked agency heads to consider offering buyouts, to trim their workforce amid another tight state budget cycle. A memo to state officials also hints at the possible closing of some institutions and large-scale layoffs.

Agencies were told Jan. 7 to begin looking at ways to trim their work force by offering to purchase additional years of service for long-term classified, primarily union, employees, allowing them to retire early.

The agencies would need to demonstrate savings before extending the voluntary buyouts, although in some cases the offers would be mandatory because of state law and union agreements.

A mandatory buyout would have to be offered if the state either closes an institution or, within a six-month period, lays off 50 employees or 10 percent of the personnel in any ''employing unit,'' which means a department, agency, state college, board, commission, bureau, council, office or administrative body.

Purchased credits, in which the state buys service time for an employee to increase his or her years on the job for purposes of calculating monthly benefits, would be limited to three years or no more than 20 percent of an employee's total state

Strickland decided to look into cost-containment options after the state's December financial report outlined the budget challenges facing Ohio highlighted with warnings of a pending recession.

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