The Iowa House has endorsed a package of incentives designed to get several hundred long-time state workers to retire early. A bonus of up to $25,000 for workers who’ve been on the state payroll for 25 years or more is among the incentives, along with state-paid health care coverage for five more years.
“I do think this is a well-thought-out bill,” Representative Marcella Frevert, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, said during House debate. “It provides that bridge between being able to take early retirement and that time when people are able to go on Medicare.”
Medicare is the government-paid health insurance plan for elderly Americans. The bill passed on a 96-1 vote. Representative Chris Rants of Sioux City, a Republican candidate for governor, was that lone “no” vote.
“In the past I have to admit I have voted for early retirement packages and every time I did I ended up feeling like I got bitten,” Rants said during House debate.
Rants questioned why this was the first rather than the last option legislators considered for budget trimming. “It would seem to me that we would exhaust every other mechanism that we have…before we pay people to quit,” Rants said.
The governor’s staff indicates there are over 2200 employees in the executive branch of state government who would be eligible for the early retirement incentives. The Iowa Senate endorsed this incentive package last month on a 41-7 vote. The House made a small change in the plan which must be reviewed by the senate before the bill can go to the governor for his approval.