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Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Statehouse Live: Brownback proposes voluntary retirement program; savings predicted at more than $25 millon

August 2, 2011, 3:31 p.m. Updated August 2, 2011, 7:22 p.m.

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— Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday continued his effort to shrink the government payroll by offering incentives to state employees eligible to retire.

A leading union official, however, said the administration failed to meet its legal obligations in the offer.

“Reducing spending through the voluntary retirement incentive program is one method of helping the state live within its means," Brownback said. The state will not replace many of those people who retire, officials said.

The Kansas Organization of State Employees said the state was required to meet with KOSE to discuss the issue “in good faith” before rolling it out.

KOSE Executive Director Jane Carter said that her organization is not opposed to voluntary retirement plans in general but that the Brownback administration hasn’t taken into account the impact that the loss of jobs would have after the recent elimination of 2,000 unfilled positions.

“Some departments across the state, already crippled by budget cuts, are so under-staffed, employees are working shifts of 16 hours or more, multiple times during a work week,” Carter said, citing employee turnover at state hospitals as an example.

Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor said the administration was under no obligation to get agreement with KOSE before proposing the plan. KOSE and the Brownback administration are meeting Aug. 10 on the issue.

Taylor said about 4,000 of the state's 24,000 employees, who are currently eligible for full or early retirement, would be eligible for the incentive program.

He didn’t want to estimate how many would take the state up on its offer, but said under a similar program last year with the city of Topeka, about 30 percent of those eligible left.

Asked if the state would save $25 million in payroll under the plan, Taylor said, “We would expect to do better than that.”

The voluntary program would be available to state retirement-eligible employees who offer to retire with the next 45 days.

As incentives, the state would provide a lump sum payment of $6,500 or continued health insurance coverage.

Under the health insurance option, the state will pay the employer's share of the state employee rate for health insurance up to 60 months for member-only coverage and up to 42 months for member-plus-dependent coverage, or until the employee reaches age 65, whichever comes first.

For the 2011 plan year, the state’s portion of health insurance coverage is $542.24 per month for single coverage, and $793.20 per month for member-plus-dependent coverage.

Taylor said the deal is geared to attract retirement eligible state employees who may be staying on the job to maintain health coverage until they are eligible for Medicare at age 65.

He said the state is taking no position on whether an employee should take the offer.

Eligible employees have until Sept. 2 to make their offer to retire. Those whose offers are accepted will work no later than Sept. 19.

“Employees should contact their personal legal and financial advisers about whether to retire and the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System about eligibility concerns,” Taylor said.

The program is not available to state employees covered under the Correctional KPERS plan, the Kansas Police & Fire plan, or Kansas Department of Labor employees whose salaries are not funded by the state.

More information on the program is at da.ks.gov.

Comments

trinity 3 years, 4 months ago

oh lordie...sooooooooooo i reckon i'd best surf on over to the suggested site and see what's what; i've got about 7&1/2 yrs left til my age+years of service meet the big 85. that 6500 carrot sure is enticing. *sarcasm off.

ksjayhawk74 3 years, 4 months ago

$6,500 in exchange for your job and health insurance doesn't seem fair. But when you consider you get that $6,500 all at once. That's like getting 5-10% of your annual wage in one nice check!!! Totally worth it.

You have to understand, Glorious Leader Brownback is laying people off so they he can bring jobs back to Kansas. Also, every taxpayer dollar saved from education, arts, women's health and social services, is another taxpayer dollar that can go to Koch lawyers and corporate tax breaks, which is what makes jobs.

xclusive85 3 years, 4 months ago

Not losing the health insurance.

"Under the health insurance option, the state will pay the employer's share of the state employee rate for health insurance up to 60 months for member-only coverage and up to 42 months for member-plus-dependent coverage, or until the employee reaches age 65, whichever comes first."

ksjayhawk74 3 years, 4 months ago

health insurance or a "big" check, it's one or the other...

"As incentives, the state would provide a lump sum payment of $6,500 or continued health insurance coverage."

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes buttttt if a job is necessary for survival or to pay for that new over priced Lawrence home where are the jobs?

Brownback will waste that $25 million savings. In reality we taxpayers should be receiving refund checks because that money belongs to US!

Brownback is BIG government and loves big government after all it has kept him from a real job for many many many years. Koch and Wal-Mart families love big government and Brownback as well because our tax dollars flow their way.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

If the planet killing pollution from internal combustion lawn mowers was eliminated, we could save MORE than $25 million. It'd be enough to set everybody up with a coke and a smile. :)

mkhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

He's not after savings, he wants to create more jobs to give to his Koch brother cronies at triple the price that hard working Kansans are doing the job for now.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 4 months ago

He didn’t want to estimate how many would take the state up on its offer, but said under a similar program last year with the city of Topeka, about 30 percent of those eligible left.

Of course, what he isn't saying is how many of those who retired in Topeka had to be immediately replaced. The Cap Journal was full of stories of top administrators taking the early retirement, which meant immediately going through the hiring process for a new employee. The same thing has already happened for a similar "incentive" offered by Shawnee County.

And as this administration has demonstrated at SRS, that means new employees making the same amount. Some savings, not to mention these long time employees will also be cashing in their unused vacation and unused sick leave.

deec 3 years, 4 months ago

I know every employee has to make the decision that is best for themselves, but I think it would be very cool if no one took this offer so that King Brownie had to actually fire people rather than the underhanded tactics they are using now. They want to cripple the state government so they have an excuse to privatize everything and/or bring in overpaid political hack cronies to run what little is left.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Given their lack of understanding about the SRS closing, and whether it will save any money, I tend not to trust their numbers.

sciencegeek 3 years, 4 months ago

Their intent isn't to save money, but to shrink government. It's that ideology thing. If you lay off a bunch of state workers and replace them with consultants that cost more and don't know the system, hey, that's the whole idea. So what if service suffers? The only people who will gripe are members of the public, and they don't count.

David Reynolds 3 years, 4 months ago

Why are any of you spending one second of time on this subject? The individuals involved will decide if it is good for them or not. Most businesses in America have offered these kinds of programs (with varying incentive packages) for decades. They do help the bottom line and the benefit to you is less cost of government. This is a good program for Kansas and the citizens of Kansas. The KOSE is just making noise for the benefit of their union members, letting the members think they are trying to "save jobs". What KOSE is really worried about is the lose of union dues.

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