Senate budget to includes $1 billion cut to employee pay and benefits
The head of the Senate committee in charge of pension reform said the Senate budget released late Monday includes a cut of more than $1 billion to public employee benefits, including a 3 percent across the board salary cut with the money moved into employees' retirement accounts. By contrast, the House budget released on Friday includes a $700 million cut to employee pay and benefits.
Employees could no longer earn cost of living adjustments after this year, under the proposed Senate budget, and the DROP retirement program would end beginning July 1, said Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate. Details of the plan are still being worked out, he said, and senators and staff worked over the weekend to come up with alternatives to reducing the impact of the cuts on the lowest income workers.
Ring is chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, which passed a compromise bill earlier this month that exempt workers who made under $40,000 from the salary and benefits cuts. He said he hopes to continue to protect workers who planned on retiring early in order to collect a lump sum from the DROP program to continue to be able to count on that benefit under the final legislative plan.
"I'm still trying to make this work,'' Ring said. "My top priority is keeping the contribution as low as possible for lower paid employees and to make sure we're not doing anything retroactive."