In a normal month in Illinois, the state expects about 200 public workers to retire.
Apparently, last April wasn’t a normal month. That’s because an estimated 1,100 state workers retired in April 2014 in an attempt to lock in their pensions, which could otherwise be affected by the state’s pension overhaul, signed into law in December.
It’s unknown whether early retirements will actually protect pensions from the reform measures. And while the staggering number of retirements caught state legislatures off guard, representatives from labor groups are less surprised.
From the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch:
Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, said the increase in retirements is not a surprise.
“It’s indicative of the harm done to employees and retirees and the complications posed by the implementation of Senate Bill 1,” Lindall said.
It’s not just state workers who are leaving the work force because of the changes.
Thousands of university employees also are retiring sooner than they expected because of mistake in Senate Bill 1 that calculates a university employee’s benefits as of last year instead of this year.
Lawmakers have pledged to fix the mistake, but that hasn’t stopped the departures.
Illinois’ pension overhaul, which raises retirement ages and decreases COLAs, among other things, was set to go into effect on June 1, 2014. But various legal challenges may push that date back.
Until then, the state’s public workers are left to roll the dice on whether they should retire early for a chance at an un-modified pension.
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