New Hampshire wants to add five years to police and fire service

Posted Mar 3, 2011 by Melissa Higgins
In the first of several public hearings on February 25th, 2011, Senator Jeb Bradley addressed state employees about Senate Bill 3 which is intended to reform the New Hampshire retirement system.
New Hampshire State Capitol
New Hampshire State Capitol
If SB 3 is passed, some of the changes to the state's retirement plan will have a dramatic impact on police, firefighters, and correctional officers. For instance, the bill intends to raise the minimum retirement age for fire and police personnel from 45 to 50. Additionally, the bill seeks to add on another five years of service to all employees who are not vested. This means that police, firefighters, and correctional officers who have not been employed for ten years as of the date of July 1st, 2011 will be required to work for 25 years instead of the 20 years they originally believed they would need to work to qualify for the state pension plan.
One of the most contentious aspects of Senator Bradley's proposal is that this bill would be applied to state workers already employed and not just new hires. This is in sharp contrast to Governor Lynch's proposal on February 15th, suggesting the same changes, except in reference only to new employees.
Though Senator Bradley discussed the urgent need for reforming the New Hampshire retirement system, Governor Lynch demonstrated during his February 15th Budget Address that the situation was not quite as dire as Bradley would later imply:
"Let's be clear. Today's retirement system is not on the verge of insolvency or bankruptcy. But we must continue working together to enact reasonable and responsible policies to ensure the benefits we promise future employees are affordable for the long term."
In fact, Governor Lynch stated that his proposal which was meant only to be applied to new hires would result in savings of about $1.5 billion over a 20 year period and "keep our retirement system on a sound footing."
Senator Bradley's proposal to force workers who are not vested to work an additional five years is unconstitutional according to a coalition representing employee groups. Many of the employees who would be impacted by this legislation accepted their positions with the understanding they would be required to work for 20 years. To go back and require workers who are not vested by 10 years will leave many state workers feeling as though they were misled and more importantly as though they are currently undervalued and under-appreciated.