Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Jersey governor proposes state employee retirement incentives and hiring limits

Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed budget counts on saving $136 million from the payroll by luring thousands of the state's most senior workers into retirement.

His proposal would eliminate three state departments -- Agriculture, Personnel and the Commerce Commission -- and 3,000 of the 68,430 jobs on the state payroll. It also would pare $472 million from the state program of property tax rebates -- eliminating them for households earning more than $150,000 a year -- and cut state aid to towns by $190 million and to hospitals by $143 million.

Corzine said details of the early- retirement program would be released later. State union leaders who were briefed on it last week said it will work this way:

· Workers who are at least 50 years old and have 25 years on the job will get credit for another three years. Since retirement pay is calculated by multiplying workers' years of service against their highest salaries, which would amount to a retirement bonus of 12 percent.

· Workers who are 60 or older and have between 20 and 24 years of service would qualify for lifetime health benefits that are generally reserved for employees with at least 25 years on the job.

· Workers who are at least 60 and have between 10 and 20 years on the job would be eligible for an additional $500 per month in retirement pay for two years.

The governor called his proposed budget "a prudent blueprint to meet difficult economic circumstances" and said it protects "the core responsibilities of government."

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