Graham opposes future pension cuts

By FRED LUCAS State Journal Staff Writer Published:

Future state and local government employees might have to work a few more years to get full retirement benefits under a proposal aimed at preserving the state's retirement system.

A bill changing the retirement rules, which already passed the Senate, is headed to the House floor after clearing the House State Government Committee Tuesday.

Currently, hazardous-duty public employees - such as police and firefighters - can retire with full benefits after 20 years regardless of their age. Non-hazardous-duty employees have to work 27 years before collecting full retirement. The proposal would require that future hazardousduty employees couldn't retire with full benefits unless their age and years of service equaled 75. Non-hazardous-duty employees would need age and years of service equaling 85.

The new rules, if enacted, would only affect public employees whobegin working on or after July 1, 2004. Proponents of the Senate Bill 205 said changes are needed now to keep the state's retirement system from going broke, and stressed that no current employees or retirees would be affected by the new rules.

But state Rep. Derrick Graham - before casting the only vote against the proposal - said he had concerns about the legislation's impact on his district.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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