Senators looking for answers on early retirement proposal

Massachusetts State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 1, 2015…..Massachusetts senators still have questions about Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal for an early retirement incentive package for state workers and they plan to privately meet with administration officials next week, according to Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

“It’s wide-ranging, it’s wide-ranging questions. It’s just going to be easier to sit down with the caucus and the secretary of A&F and whomever she wishes to bring with her,” Rosenberg said Wednesday, referring to Baker’s budget chief, Kristen Lepore.

Rosenberg said the early retirement package came up in Wednesday’s caucus, before senators took up a local road repairs bill in public session. The caucus included both Democrats and Republicans.

Senate caucuses are conducted behind closed doors, often in the Senate president’s office. Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, pledged an era of “openness and transparency” as he assumed the presidency.

Asked if he anticipated making any changes to the early retirement proposal, Rosenberg said, “I don’t know yet. We just don’t know. We’ve got a lot of questions that we need answered.”

Lepore defended the Baker administration’s plan — meant to attract 4,500 state employees — during a Joint Committee on Public Service hearing on Monday.

Facing lawmakers concerned that an exodus of employees could affect services, Lepore expressed confidence that the administration could save more than $170 million through the program with “minimal disruption” to state services.

The Senate intends to take up the package on Wednesday, April 8, according to a Rosenberg spokesman. Next week’s caucus with Lepore will be with Senate Democrats, the spokesman said.

House lawmakers passed their version (H 3189) last week, and its window for application runs from April 15 through July 15. In Baker’s version (H 61), the window runs from April 6 to May 29.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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