Alabama lawmaker files ‘return to work’ bill

File Image: Alabama Statehouse
File Image: Alabama Statehouse
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 5:13 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lawmakers want to put more money into the pockets of certain Alabamians and bring more employees into the workforce. A pre-filled bill would increase the amount state agencies and schools can pay state retirees a year, while they still receive retirement benefits. The sponsor, Rep. Rex Reynolds R-Madison County, is calling this a return-to-work bill.

Liane Kelly represents Alabama’s retired teachers. She says retirement doesn’t cover as much as it used to.

“Inflation hit them,” said Kelly. “Their benefits, you know, buying 20%, less than it was eight to 10 years ago.”

The Alabama Department of Corrections lacks nearly 700 corrections officers, and the state is short almost 600 teachers. Supporters say this bill would fix both problems.

“I call it the post-retirement return to work salary cap increase,” says Reynolds.

$37 thousand is how much retirees can earn working part-time without having to stop their retirement benefits. Reynolds’s bill would increase that to $52 thousand. The money would come from the hiring department’s budget.

“There may be cities that can use that a smaller salary, maybe increases the number of hours and employees able to work part-time,” said Reynolds.

There is concern about this bill from both senators who chair the education trust fund committee and general fund committee.

“Allow employees to somewhat double dip, where they’re getting now, their retirement check on top of this $52,000 payment. They’ve greatly enhanced their compensation,” said Senator Arthur Orr.

This could hurt the Retirement System of Alabama in the long run. Senator Arthur Orr says they should increase state employees’ salaries and look at other ways to address the employee shortage.

“If you look at our contiguous states, Alabama is now the highest paid when it comes to state employees and educators for that matter,” said Orr. “I did have a bill getting drafted to address the school resource officer shortage in schools.”

Reynold’s proposed increased pay would expire in 2027.

“The governor, the legislature, they’ll be able to come up with a solution of getting people back to the state workforce,” said Kelly.

Lawmakers will meet to debate this bill during next Tuesday’s legislative session.

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