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State retiree income cap could be bumped $15,000: What does that mean?

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Senate has proposed a provision in its budget that would allow retired government workers who choose to return to work for the state to earn up to an additional $15,000 per year without losing any of their pension income. The provision is aimed at addressing a shrinking state workforce and growing concerns about affordability in the public sector.

The proposed provision would raise the current earnings ceiling for retirees from $35,000 to $50,000. Supporters of the measure argue that it would help to fill open positions in civil service, as the state struggles to attract and retain skilled workers. Additionally, offering retired workers the opportunity to return to work would help to address concerns about a mass exodus of workers from the state in the next five years, as more than 12,500 workers are nearing retirement.

The Retired Public Employee Association president, Ed Farrell, called the measure a “win-win,” as it would give employers skilled employees at a reduced cost and would provide retired workers with the opportunity to earn more income in a tight economy. However, the provision’s fate during the final days of budget negotiations is unclear.

The proposed provision is also seen as a stop-gap measure to make it more inviting for retirees to bring their skills back into the agencies they left behind years ago. Wayne Spence, the president of the Public Employees Federation, has been pushing for the state to modernize its work culture to attract younger workers, but he noted that the state usually lags behind the private sector in areas like remote or hybrid work flexibility, which are especially attractive to younger workers.

The proposed provision would help to address the concern of a “wisdom exodus,” as older workers with institutional knowledge could share and mentor other people who are coming up. Beth Finkel, the executive director of the New York AARP, stated that many people want to work longer, and the provision would provide older workers with the option and a little more flexibility.

The proposed provision would help address some of the workforce challenges facing New York, as the state struggles to attract and retain skilled workers in a changing economy.