AUGUSTA – Legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to ensure public workers don’t get shortchanged for their promotion upon retirement, received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee on Monday.
The bill – LD 1620, “An Act To Exclude Collectively Bargained Salary and Job Promotion Increases from the Earnable Compensation Limitation for Retirement Purposes” – would require the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to calculate salary increases in retirement wages.
“Maine public employees shouldn’t be penalized for a promotion because the Legislature changed the rules regarding their retirement benefits halfway through the game,” said President Jackson. “This bill is about making sure Maine’s public workers get what they deserve after working hard, day-in and day-out throughout their career. It’s about making sure these workers get a fair shake.”
Members of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS) who have paid into social security for 40 quarters or more do not receive the full amount of social security that they have earned due to the Windfall Elimination Provision. As a result, retirees who earned social security compensation have it reduced by 60 percent.
The state also doesn’t match what state employees and teachers put into the retirement system. Most employees and employers both pay 6.2 percent of wages into the Social Security System. In Maine, state employees and teachers currently pay 7.65 percent into their retirement system, while the state contributes a fraction of that amount. In fiscal year 2019, the state only contributed 4.39 percent for state employees and 3.97 percent for teachers.
LD 1620 won’t fix all the disparities in MainePERS, but it’s a step in the right direction. The bill faces additional work sessions in committee.