The Iowa Senate has given final approval to a package of incentives lawmakers hope will entice at least a thousand long-time state employees to retire early.
The incentives include a bonus of up to $25,000. The size of the bonus depends on how long the employee has worked for the state. In addition, the retiree would get health care coverage for five years. The package will be offered to executive branch employees only. Legislative leaders are considering extending these incentives to employees in the legislative branch of state government, too.
“We will have that discussion with Republicans on what we may do in that area,” says Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal. “We have such a relatively small part of state government that we want to be careful not to talk too much about who is eligible (to retire early) because it’s pretty easy to figure out, ‘Oh, I know who that is.'”
There are 187 full-time, year-round employees in the legislative branch of state government. Early retirement incentives have been offered to legislative branch employees twice in the last decade when workers in the executive branch were being offered an “early out” option.
Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton didn’t support this latest round of early retirement incentives for executive branch employees. “There are many issues that have been raised by the early retirement bill that was passed. Will it really meet the goals that they desire?” Paulsen says. “We’re continuing to look into that. I believe it was designed in such a way that it will not achieve what it was designed to achieve, so reopening those issues and perhaps doing some tweaks would perhaps be a positive thing, I think.”
There are over 50,000 employees in the executive branch of state government, about half of whom work for the state universities in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City.
Over 1700 people work in the judicial branch of state government. The state’s chief justice hasn’t yet announced whether she intends to offer similar early retirement incentives to judicial branch employees.