Media coverage: Hearing on rehiring retirees

As we told you in our previous issue, the state Assembly Committee on Insurance met for several hours Thursday (Nov. 17) to hear testimony on the practice of rehiring state retirees. At issue, critics say, is the ability of those individuals to earn a salary and draw on their pension at the same time. State legislators have introduced two bills to curb the practice for rehired retirees working halftime or more. The Assembly panel heard from individuals representing a broad range of state entities, including the UW System, K-12 education, municipalities, tech colleges, law enforcement and more.

Here’s a sample of local news media coverage, as well as a link to our University Communication report on the hearing:
Green Bay Press-Gazette | WLUK, Fox 11 | University Communication

Columnist takes slaps at Maki, UWGB… but also says issue is much bigger

Syndicated political writer Mike Nichols of Wisconsin has a reputation for sharply written but mostly fair columns from a conservative perspective. His latest effort involved a trip to the UW-Green Bay campus for a piece on the highly publicized retirement and rehiring of the University’s chief business officer, Tom Maki. Nichols argues that some state employees are getting too sweet a deal with their current array of retirement benefits, but also concedes there’s a decent chance UW-Green Bay and Maki are being targeted unfairly. He says the real question involves long-term changes to the retirement age. The Press-Gazette carried the column, read more.

Assembly committee considers rehired retiree legislation

Officials and citizens representing a broad variety of interests testified Thursday (Nov. 17) before a state Assembly panel that is considering two bills on the widespread practice of rehiring retirees. The Assembly Committee on Insurance heard several hours of testimony on the proposals, both of which would require state retirees working halftime or more “abate” — not collect their state pension — until they are done working entirely. Current policy allows retirees to earn a salary and draw a pension at the same time. The UW System, K-12 education, municipal government, technical colleges and law enforcement were among the state entities offering testimony at the hearing Thursday. Full story.

UW spokesman: Clarification needed on rehiring retirees

UW System spokesman Dave Giroux on Monday (Nov. 14) said state legislators should clarify the rules governing rehiring retirees, instead of focusing on one or two cases of the practice. Giroux’s comments were made after outspoken Rep. Steve Nass, a frequent UW System critic, called for UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas K. Harden and special assistant Dan Spielmann to be fired over questions about the practice at UW-Green Bay. The state Department of Employee Trust Funds on Friday (Nov. 11) issued findings that the rehire of Vice Chancellor Tom Maki after his March retirement was not in compliance with state policy. UW-Green Bay officials said they intend to appeal the ruling. Read story

TV-11 adds context to rehired annuitant story

WLUK-TV reporter Mark Leland filed a story last Thursday that examined the practice of rehiring public employees after retirement. Although the piece used the term “double dipping” throughout, it also pointed out that at least half of the rehired annuitant cases statewide are at the K-12 level, and that the practice has both advocates and critics and in any event is not limited to a single university campus. Communications director Christopher Sampson was interviewed for the University and UW System perspective.

State Journal backs Assembly plan to alter rules on rehired annuitants


Madison’s daily newspaper, The State Journal, has weighed in with an editorial on the rehired annuitants issue. The newspaper is backing Assembly Bill 318, which would require public employees returning half time or more to jobs covered by the state retirement system to suspend their pension income while they’re working. (Those employees would, however, qualify for public health benefits.) It uses the arguably misleading term “double dip,” there’s an obligatory reference to UWGB and no mention of the benefit savings inherent in the practice, but the piece offers a solid case for why some are supporting AB 318.

Assembly panel to hold hearing on rehiring retirees

Wednesday’s (Nov. 2) Green Bay Press-Gazette had the latest on a statewide examination of rehiring policies, noting a state Assembly committee on Nov. 17 will hold a hearing on the practice of drawing both a salary and a pension. Gov. Scott Walker said recently he favors a proposed change in legislation that would stop retirement payments for state employees who retire and return to work at least half time. Since 2005, more than 6,000 public workers throughout Wisconsin have retired and been rehired, according to the state Department of Employee Trust Funds. Full story.