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Bill would incentivize state retirees’ return to workforce

There is a workforce shortage in the state – not only for businesses but for schools and state agencies.

To help plug the gap, a Huntsville lawmaker has prefiled legislation to allow state agencies and schools to pay state retirees up to $52,000 a year while they still draw retirement.

State Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville) spoke about the the amount of interest the proposed legislation has generated throughout the state.

“I have heard from local school superintendents, county commissioners and mayors, police chiefs and sheriffs, and major state department heads with an interest in bringing retirees back into the workforce, particularly now in this challenging times of a lack of an available workforce in so many areas,” said Reynolds, who is chair of the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee.

The salary cap on post-retirement public employees and teachers is $37,000 a year. The legislation would not require the salary be increased but the agencies would have that option.

According to Reynolds, the legislation “provides agencies the flexibility of using it, they can choose to not use it at all, they can choose to increase recruitment salaries or maybe increase the number of hours that a retiree can work.”

State Sen. Arthur Orr said was appreciative of Reynolds’ efforts. However, he was also cautious about the long term effects of the new legislation.

“I appreciate his efforts to be proactive, to help make employment by state government more attractive,” said Orr (R-Decatur), chair of the Finance & Taxation Education Committee. “However, I am concerned about the negative impact it may have on the retirement system. I also am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. In other words, if we need to increase salaries in certain areas to attract quality employees, then that is a step we need to take.

“We, the Legislature, need to be very careful in how we approach this issue.”

Austen Shipley is as staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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