Mass. May Offer Early Retirement to Thousands; Layoffs Possible

Baker's budget chief Kristen Lepore tells The Boston Globe the administration projects that 4,500 will take advantage of the early retirement program if it is passed by the Legislature

Two days before the Baker Administration releases it's first budget, necn is getting a preview of how the new Republican Governor intends to close a projected $1.5 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.

Charlie Baker hopes his plan can convince about a third of the 14,000 eligible state employees to retire early.

Dominick Ianno, Budget Office Chief of Staff says, "The savings will be about $178 million if we achieve 4,500 employees leaving."

If the administration can't convince at least 4,500 people to take the early retirement, workers will be laid off.

But Gov. Baker says, "We're anticipating that we won't have any trouble reaching those numbers and that's certainly going to be our goal."

The early retirement would only be offered to executive department employees who are vested in the pension program, with at least 20 years of service and who are at least 55 years old.

House Speaker Robert Deleo likes the idea - if the savings are real- adding, "because we found in past early retirement plans that there haven't been the savings that we expected. So, I just want to see exactly how this one will read to make sure there are savings."

Mass Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnnerny explains further: "There are variables. If people are hired back at a subsequent date, or if the cost of the health care for instance, and other post employment benefits haven't been fully accounted for, that can eat away at the savings."

But Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr says it's a proposal that would allow people near retirement age an easier transition out of state government. He says, "It would allow new people to come in, to the extent that they're re-hired in state government at a higher contribution rate toward the pension system."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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