Bill would raise retirement age for state employees

A state lawmaker said the minimum retirement age for state employees should be raised.

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, is proposing to raise the minimum age for most workers in the Wisconsin Retirement System from 55 to 57, or 52 from 50 for those in protective services jobs.

A second bill would say retirement payouts would be calculated on the top five years of an employees’ work, rather than the three years considered currently.

“Look at the private sector. Who even has a pension anymore, let alone the ability to retire at 50?” Stroebel said. “It just isn’t out there.”

Stroebel said while the WRS is considered fully funded currently, he believes it could help the future solvency of the trust fund.

“We have to be ahead of the curve on these things, and I don’t think anyone would consider these changes unreasonable whatsoever,” Stroebel said.

But Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said the bill is unnecessary given WRS’ current situation

“If the private sector is having a problem retiring then that’s what we should be working on and helping out with rather than taking away one just so both have nothing,” Erpenbach said. “It makes no sense at all.”

Erpenbach calls the bill the latest attack on public employees.

“The idea of just going after public employees, it’s getting kind of old,” Erpenbach said. “It doesn’t solve the problem, doesn’t create a job, I can’t imagine it being a priority.”

Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME, the state’s largest employee union, said the bills were “a solution in search of a problem.”

“It seems like this is political meddling that can disrupt a system that has worked well,” Badger said.

Badger said he couldn’t predict whether the bills may cause another wave of retirements in state jobs.

Neither of the bills would affect those looking to retire right now. The age bill would only apply to those under age 40 and the pension formula bill would apply to those retiring five years from now.

Stroebel is looking for bill co-sponsors and will likely introduce the bill later this month.