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Sunday, June 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesEARLY RETIREMENT BILL MEETS WITH REJECTION

EARLY RETIREMENT BILL MEETS WITH REJECTION

An early retirement incentive bill was rejected by the Government Employees Retirement Board and upstaged by another government official at a Government Operations Committee hearing Thursday night.
Proposed by Sens. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Donald "Ducks" Cole and David Jones, the bill sought to set up a system of advance service credits that employees could purchase toward retirement.
The bill would allow workers with 25 years of service to leave early and "buy" their remaining time to 30 years by contributing 8 percent of their annuity over the remaining years. The senators stated their aim was to avoid mass government layoffs while providing a "workable vehicle" for early retirement.
However, that was not the way Corrine King, GERS board chairwoman, or Ira Mills, director of the office of management and budget, saw it. In a long statement, King rejected the bill for several reasons, chiefly funding. She said the government could not guarantee the $15 million needed to finance the program. The money would come from the government's $300 million bond issue.
She also objected to a provision excluding teachers and others from the program, calling it "unconstitutional." The bill is limited to executive-branch employees.
Mills criticized almost everything in the bill. He said the money cannot be paid directly to GERS because of certain "covenants" contained in the bond issue. He called the proposal "unconstitutional" and "irrational," citing retirement dates that he said could not possibly be met.
Jobs would be eliminated permanently when their holders retired, under the bill, and Mills said some of those jobs were vital. A provision banning the government from entering into agreements with former employees could prevent many workers from sharing their expertise in the private sector, he added, and stand in the way of farming out more operations to the private sector.
Liburd replied that the bill was a "working document" and some consideration should be given that. Cole accused Mills of "sabotaging" the proposal.
But the real fireworks started later when Mills revealed that he had a retirement plan of his own which he had just finishing drafting. He said his plan would cost less, about $9 million, and was more viable.
The bill's sponsors seemed astonished, and demanded copies of the proposal. Mills said he had completed the final draft Thursday.
Cole questioned how he could have done that when they all had spent the day together with the governor at a conference. Mills said he had "dictated" the final draft at that time.
Jones accused Mills of "hijacking" their bill at the "11th hour."
In an evening already filled with sparring between Mills and Cole, Cole accused Mills of disrespect and of playing politics, and for the second time in the evening, the committee chairman, Gregory Bennerson, had to put down the gavel to bring order.
There are two more committee hearings scheduled on the proposal, one on St. John Friday evening, and another on St. Croix on Monday. Mills promised to have his proposal with him Friday in St. John.

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An early retirement incentive bill was rejected by the Government Employees Retirement Board and upstaged by another government official at a Government Operations Committee hearing Thursday night.
Proposed by Sens. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Donald "Ducks" Cole and David Jones, the bill sought to set up a system of advance service credits that employees could purchase toward retirement.
The bill would allow workers with 25 years of service to leave early and "buy" their remaining time to 30 years by contributing 8 percent of their annuity over the remaining years. The senators stated their aim was to avoid mass government layoffs while providing a "workable vehicle" for early retirement.
However, that was not the way Corrine King, GERS board chairwoman, or Ira Mills, director of the office of management and budget, saw it. In a long statement, King rejected the bill for several reasons, chiefly funding. She said the government could not guarantee the $15 million needed to finance the program. The money would come from the government's $300 million bond issue.
She also objected to a provision excluding teachers and others from the program, calling it "unconstitutional." The bill is limited to executive-branch employees.
Mills criticized almost everything in the bill. He said the money cannot be paid directly to GERS because of certain "covenants" contained in the bond issue. He called the proposal "unconstitutional" and "irrational," citing retirement dates that he said could not possibly be met.
Jobs would be eliminated permanently when their holders retired, under the bill, and Mills said some of those jobs were vital. A provision banning the government from entering into agreements with former employees could prevent many workers from sharing their expertise in the private sector, he added, and stand in the way of farming out more operations to the private sector.
Liburd replied that the bill was a "working document" and some consideration should be given that. Cole accused Mills of "sabotaging" the proposal.
But the real fireworks started later when Mills revealed that he had a retirement plan of his own which he had just finishing drafting. He said his plan would cost less, about $9 million, and was more viable.
The bill's sponsors seemed astonished, and demanded copies of the proposal. Mills said he had completed the final draft Thursday.
Cole questioned how he could have done that when they all had spent the day together with the governor at a conference. Mills said he had "dictated" the final draft at that time.
Jones accused Mills of "hijacking" their bill at the "11th hour."
In an evening already filled with sparring between Mills and Cole, Cole accused Mills of disrespect and of playing politics, and for the second time in the evening, the committee chairman, Gregory Bennerson, had to put down the gavel to bring order.
There are two more committee hearings scheduled on the proposal, one on St. John Friday evening, and another on St. Croix on Monday. Mills promised to have his proposal with him Friday in St. John.