Senate OKs limits on double-dipping retirees

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The proposed restrictions target employees retiring after July 1

By Barry Massey

SANTA FE — Public employees could no longer double dip by returning to work in government jobs with a salary and their pension under legislation approved by the Senate on Monday.

The proposed restrictions target state and local government employees retiring after July 1.

The legislation will not stop about 1,500 state and municipal workers who already are receiving a salary and their pension. However, they will be forced to resume making payroll contributions into the public employee pension fund.

Under a 2003 law, government workers can retire, wait 90 days and return to work for the state, city or county while receiving their pensions.

Critics say the practice has encouraged experienced workers to retire early, which has strained the public pension fund by forcing it to pay out benefits over a longer time. There’s also been a public outcry over some double-dipping government workers earning combined retirement and salary of more than $150,000.

“When we did this double-dipping we kind of took the genie and let it out of the bottle, and the genie has gotten real big over the years,” said Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, “But what we’re doing is putting that genie back in the bottle.”

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