Governor asks for state employees to pay more towards retirement - - Jackson, MS

Governor asks for state employees to pay more towards retirement

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By Ashley Conroy - e-mail

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Haley Barbour stated on his web site that a necessary function to drive Mississippi's economy would be for state employees to pay more towards their retirement rather than the state.

Currently, 7.25 percent of a state employee's salary is put towards his or her retirement. Twelve percent of each employee's salary is matched by the employer, which is paid in part by the state and also by counties.

Governor Barbour said the more the state has to pay towards retirement, means more money is coming out of the tax payer's pocket .

"This requires tax payers to pay more than $700 million each year into the retirement system," said Barbour.

Pat Robertson for the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) said they've proposed a matching system where the employee would pay an additional one percent towards his or her retirement, and the employer would contribute the same amount. But, to move forward with this, it would first have to go through the legislature.

"The board could not increase the contribution rate without giving a benefit increase at the same time," Robertson said.

Groups like the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees said any increase at this time because of the economy would hurt the pockets of families.

"A person making $25 thousand a year would be bringing home $34 less a month in disposable income," Brenda Scott of the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees said.

Governor Barbour disagreed with PERS approach saying the burden of retirement payment should rest on the state employee.

"We simply can't afford unsustainable costs in our state retirement system while we're facing reductions in other state services," said Barbour.

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