Legislature(1995 - 1996)
1995-03-20 House JournalFull Journal pdf
1995-03-20 House Journal Page 0813 HB 270 HOUSE BILL NO. 270 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act relating to retirement incentive programs for the public employees' retirement system and the teachers' retirement system; relating to separation incentives for certain state employees; and providing for an effective date." 1995-03-20 House Journal Page 0814 HB 270 was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Labor & Commerce and Finance Committees. The following fiscal notes apply: Fiscal notes (2), Dept. of Administration, 3/20/95 Indeterminate fiscal note, Office of the Governor/All Depts., 3/20/95 The Governor's transmittal letter, dated March 20, 1995, appears below: "Dear Speaker Phillips: Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that establishes a temporary retirement incentive program for employees of the state, its subdivisions, and its school districts, and a temporary separation incentive program for employees of the state. Closing the state's fiscal gap will require major changes in state operations over the next several years. We need to make state government more efficient and eliminate nonessential services. Our challenge is to accomplish these goals without forcing large layoffs of employees, which could ripple through the private sector and endanger the health of Alaska's economy. Retirement and separation incentive plans have been successfully used by the private sector and government to scale back payroll while eliminating or minimizing the need for layoffs. Properly structured, these plans can be a cost-effective and humane method of downsizing. This legislation will make these restructuring tools available to the State of Alaska, and will extend the retirement incentive program as an option for municipalities and school districts, which are also facing the need to restructure their operations and work forces. My Administration will use the retirement and separation incentives in a strategic approach, different from prior programs. The last state retirement incentive program applied to all departments regardless of their budget or personnel situation, and had little effect on downsizing or restructuring government. 1995-03-20 House Journal Page 0815 HB 270 Under our approach, the programs will be tailored to the fiscal and staffing requirements of each department. This approach is similar to private sector and federal programs. The incentives will be used in combination with attrition to permanently reduce the number of positions on the state payroll. Departments will be able to participate in the incentive programs only if the programs contribute to their budget and staffing requirements and are cost effective. This bill differs from the previous retirement incentive program (RIP) laws, enacted in 1986 and 1989, in that employers are specifically authorized to extend an incentive plan to employees in certain components (e.g., certain state divisions slated for major reductions), in certain job classifications, or certain geographic locations. In addition, with regard to the state, not all state employees will be eligible to apply during a window period. Instead the commissioner of administration is authorized to establish window periods (of 30 to 60 days) for some departments and not others. This will allow targeting of departments where major reductions are contemplated, and will alleviate the "brain drain" problem that arose when previous incentive programs were implemented. The bill also requires that cost savings be shown for each employee allowed to participate, and that cost savings be calculated over a three- year period rather than a five-year period. This change from previous RIP laws will guarantee that the retirement incentive program produces substantial savings to the state and its local governments and school districts. There are some similarities between this bill and the prior RIP laws. As with those laws, this bill provides that eligible state, municipal, and school district employees in the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) may obtain three years of retirement credit, to be applied toward reaching normal or early retirement age, reducing the actuarial reduction that early retirees must take, or increasing years of credited service. An employee must pay the appropriate retirement system the employee's normal share for these three years of credit, and the employer must pay the system the difference between what the employee pays and the actuarial cost of allowing the employee to participate. Applications for participation in the program will be allowed only during relatively short "window periods," and the employee must retire within several months after the 1995-03-20 House Journal Page 0816 HB 270 end of a window period. The bill imposes substantial penalties on an employee retiring under the RIP who accepts employment with another PERS or TRS employer or with a Judicial Retirement System employer, or who is reemployed as a member of the optional university retirement system. The bill also proposes, for the state only, another temporary incentive program, the separation incentive program, that has not been used previously by the state, but that has been used successfully by local governments and school districts in Alaska, by the federal government, and by the private sector. Under this program, which may be offered in conjunction with the RIP or separately from that program, long-term state employees separating from state service may be paid a one-time separation incentive payment. That payment would be $25,000 or six months' salary, whichever is less, unless a state department or the office of management and budget sets a lower payment. As with the RIP, separation incentive payments could be made only if they would result in cost savings to the state over a three-year period; the program would not be open to all state employees, but could be limited to certain departments or job classes; there would be brief "window periods" for application; and there would be substantial penalties for reemployment by the state within three years. As this bill works its way through the legislative process, representatives of my Administration will be available to answer any questions that members of your body might have. I urge your prompt consideration and passage of this bill. Sincerely, /s/ Tony Knowles Governor"