Tony Payne’s column on March 21 discusses public and private sector retirement.

One of his points is that raising the retirement age is reasonable, given that people live longer now. Let’s think some about some issues this could raise.

The work force will retain more older people who ordinarily would have been replaced by younger people. I think that we could conclude that the unemployment rate would increase.

Payne notes that the Social Security contribution by employees is being reduced this year from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. It seems that we are repeating the mistake of underfunding retirement as was done with the state’s mishandling of retirement contributions. This is sad, but believable.

The state has used a generous retirement package to attract employees to state government. The pay salary is usually lower, but the promise of this benefit has kept many dedicated state employees at their jobs for the long haul. As a result, we now have many very competent and knowledgeable people in state government.

This will change with Gov. Paul LePage’s raid of promised benefits to state workers. Who in their right mind would want to stay in state government for a long time given that the retirement contribution is more than double that of Social Security and the pay is lower?

State employment will have a high turnover rate and become a stepping stone for better-paying public sector jobs. There are costs associated with the continual re-training of new employees.

People think that we have to wait too long now to get an answer from a state official. It will get a lot worse.

This is a case of being penny wise and pound foolish.

Paul Mitnik


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