New Mexico House lawmakers Tuesday passed a once-defeated measure increasing the retirement age for state workers and public school teachers. Spearheaded by House Republicans working with nine Democrats, the passage came two days after the bill was defeated, the Santa Fe New Mexican
State Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told the newspaper that more lawmakers grew to understand the bill’s urgency after it was rejected on Sunday.
“I talked to people, people talked to each other, people started to understand the enormity of the problem we’re facing, “ Stewart said in explaining the flip in votes.
The main provisions of the bill would raise the retirement age to 55 for state workers and public school teachers who haven't logged five years in the unions by July 1. It also would alter the annual cost of living adjustment for state workers without five years as of July 1.
Rep. Conrad James, an Albuquerque Republican, said the underfunded pension plans could wreak havoc with the state's operating expenses, forcing the state to take drastic measures. "If we don't take action now, there will be layoffs and furloughs."
Opponents contend it’s unfair, possibly forcing workers to labor years longer to qualify for a full pension. For example, an 18-year-old who could retire at 43 under rules in force now, would have to work until 55 to receive a pension.
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