A report says that Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees. This step would be taken to save money in the face of a huge budget shortfall. The step of early retirement will only be feasible if the lawmakers get a bill passed. The employee group of the state has not taken a stand in this regard yet. Though early retirement would be more costly to the state initially, it will save money in the long run.
Bill Verifies the News that Wyoming May Offer Early Retirement to State and UW Employees
Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees. This speculation was confirmed with the proposal of a bill, Senate File 95 that is sponsored by ten lawyers is passed. This bill was introduced as the result of the efforts of the state leaders to save money. The state is already facing a huge budget shortfall.
The Eligible People
If the report that says Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees turns to be a fact, about 2,000 employees would qualify for an early retirement as per SF 95. The qualified workers are calculated on the basis of a formula that considers their years of service and age, says the primary sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange. It is pertinent to add here that in total about 8,000 people work for the State of Wyoming and 3,000 employees work at the University of Wyoming.
Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees because the lawmakers are struggling with a shortfall of about $400 million in the current budget cycle of two years and $3 billion. It is despite the fact that the Gov. Matt initiated $250 million cuts last summer which leave the Wyoming Legislature with about $150 million to use savings to fill or cut.
Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees because the lawmakers don’t wish to offer pink slips to the employees. Meier stated that he doesn’t want to give pink slips to people and if reductions are needed the executive branch should have some options.
Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees if SF 95 becomes a law. If it becomes a law, it will come into effect on an immediate basis. After that, the employees could notify the Wyoming Retirement System and their employers and leave a job as soon as April 1, 2017. They can retire through June 30, 2019.
Long Term Savings
Offering early retirement to state and UW employees may cost some upfront money to the state but the amount of money the state would save over the long term is more, says Meier. The state would need to pay sick time and unused vacation time to the employees. The employees who are aged 61 or older would be given a bonus of three months as their salaries and the state would make the monthly payments of about 20 percent of the salary of the employee until the employee reached 62 years of age. The latter would be done for a few UW or state employees only. The state would also be responsible for making monthly health insurance payments until a retiree turns 65 years of age.
In the fiscal that commences on June 1, 2017, the state would have to pay out an estimated $41 million to the retirees. It will have to pay about $34.4 million over the next two years. But since the number of salaries that need to be paid will be lesser, the nonpartisan legislative staff has around $56 million in savings for the year that begins on June 1, 2017. Around $108 million will be saved over the next two years.
The Filing of the Bill
SF-95, the bill that gave birth to the speculation that Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees was filed and made public a few days back.
No Reaction Yet
Interestingly, The Wyoming Public Employees Association, a group representing the state employees has not taken a stand on the new legislation that raised the speculations that Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees. The Executive Director of The Wyoming Public Employees Association, Betty Jo Beardsley stated that the group has yet to decide a position on this legislation.
Early Retirement for University of Wyoming Employees
Chris Boswell who serves as the Vice President of the University of Wyoming stated that the school is currently putting together an early retirement program for the faculty that will most probably be launched in this spring. This step is taken in order to save some money. He also mentioned that the University would be interested to see how this bill might merge with the existing early separation incentives of UW that are underway at the moment.
The Biggest Side Effect of the Bill
Meier says that the biggest side effect of the fact that Wyoming may offer early retirement to state and UW employees is that the state and University will have to face a brain drain as some of the skilled employees might leave and never come back.