82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, August 8, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesRules Committee OKs Bonus for Government Retirees

Rules Committee OKs Bonus for Government Retirees

May 20, 2009 — Though the Government Employee Retiree System is racing toward bankruptcy, with vastly more promised to retirees than is paid for by worker or government contributions, government retirees may be seeing a few extra annual bonuses along with their checks if a bill forwarded by the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee Wednesday becomes law.
(See "GERS: 'We Are in Serious Trouble.")
The bill, introduced by Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe and Shawn-Michael Malone, would take $2.27 million from the net income of the Virgin Islands Lottery every year, after the various shares of the proceeds have been divided up according to law, then split it equally among retired government pensioners. Senators cited rising costs and economic hardships facing retirees as they spoke in support of the bonus payments.
"Not all of our seniors worked for the government and have government pensions," Sen. Alvin Williams said. "A lot have only Social Security and are trying to live on only $400 to $500 a month."
Only those who already receive government pensions would receive the bonuses. About 5,000 retired government employees would get bonuses of a little over $2,000 if the bill passes and 100 percent of the funding comes through. If there is not enough money available from the lottery, the bonuses will be reduced or eliminated. Because a funding source is identified and the bonuses only go out if the funding is there, the bonuses do not themselves worsen the unfunded pension liability, said Austin Nibbs, GERS administrator. For that reason, GERS does not oppose the bonuses. The measure does not help GERS address its built-in deficits caused by paying out more in benefits than it collects in payments.
The committee also approved a bill reorganizing territorial emergency management (See "Emergency Management To Be Split Off From Guard.")
Voting yea on the bills were Dowe, Sens. Neville James, Samuel Sanes and Michael Thurland. No one voted nay and absent were Sens. Usie Richards, Patrick Simeon Sprauve and Celestino White. Nelson, Sens. Nereida "Nellie" O'Reilly and Alvin Williams were present but are not members of the committee and did not vote.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
May 20, 2009 -- Though the Government Employee Retiree System is racing toward bankruptcy, with vastly more promised to retirees than is paid for by worker or government contributions, government retirees may be seeing a few extra annual bonuses along with their checks if a bill forwarded by the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee Wednesday becomes law.
(See "GERS: 'We Are in Serious Trouble.")
The bill, introduced by Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe and Shawn-Michael Malone, would take $2.27 million from the net income of the Virgin Islands Lottery every year, after the various shares of the proceeds have been divided up according to law, then split it equally among retired government pensioners. Senators cited rising costs and economic hardships facing retirees as they spoke in support of the bonus payments.
"Not all of our seniors worked for the government and have government pensions," Sen. Alvin Williams said. "A lot have only Social Security and are trying to live on only $400 to $500 a month."
Only those who already receive government pensions would receive the bonuses. About 5,000 retired government employees would get bonuses of a little over $2,000 if the bill passes and 100 percent of the funding comes through. If there is not enough money available from the lottery, the bonuses will be reduced or eliminated. Because a funding source is identified and the bonuses only go out if the funding is there, the bonuses do not themselves worsen the unfunded pension liability, said Austin Nibbs, GERS administrator. For that reason, GERS does not oppose the bonuses. The measure does not help GERS address its built-in deficits caused by paying out more in benefits than it collects in payments.
The committee also approved a bill reorganizing territorial emergency management (See "Emergency Management To Be Split Off From Guard.")
Voting yea on the bills were Dowe, Sens. Neville James, Samuel Sanes and Michael Thurland. No one voted nay and absent were Sens. Usie Richards, Patrick Simeon Sprauve and Celestino White. Nelson, Sens. Nereida "Nellie" O'Reilly and Alvin Williams were present but are not members of the committee and did not vote.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.